(Adds details about Freitekh, instructor, investigation,
By Mark Hosenball and Joseph Ax
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Oct 12 The U.S. National
Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday it believes a
small plane that crashed in East Hartford, Connecticut on
Tuesday was intentional, and that the FBI would lead the
The twin-engine plane slammed into a utility pole and burst
into flames on Tuesday near the headquarters of aerospace
manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, killing flight student Feras
Freitekh and leaving the instructor with serious burns.
In a statement, the NTSB said its initial investigation
indicated that the crash was "the result of an intentional act."
East Hartford Police Lieutenant Joshua Litwin said at a news
conference on Wednesday that he did not know who was flying the
plane at the time of the crash. The aircraft had two sets of
controls, allowing either person to pilot the plane, Litwin
The New York Times reported that law enforcement sources
said the instructor has told investigators the plane was
deliberately crashed. The Hartford Courant, citing a
high-ranking law enforcement official, reported that the two men
argued before the crash.
Federal Aviation Administration records showed Freitekh
lived in Orland Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and became
certified last year as a private pilot for single-engine planes.
A U.S. national security official, who confirmed the
identity of Freitekh and requested anonymity to discuss the
ongoing investigation, said law enforcement would look into
whether Freitekh had ties to terrorism. The official said,
however, that Freitekh was not known to U.S. intelligence
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx declined to say if the
crash was an act of terrorism. The FBI "is going to dig into the
facts," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Police searched an apartment in Hartford where Freitekh was
staying and had also interviewed other flight students, the
Courant newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
CBS News reported that Freitekh, a Jordanian national, first
entered the United States in 2012 on a temporary student visa in
order to attend flight school. The network said Freitekh also
went to a language school in Toledo, Ohio, at one point.
People who said they were relatives of the man mourned him
on social media on Wednesday.
"Pray for him for mercy and forgiveness," one person wrote
on Facebook in Arabic, saying he was a cousin and that Freitekh,
28, died "after a terrible accident."
Freitekh and a flight instructor were the only people aboard
the plane when it crashed at about 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) on
Tuesday during flight training that originated at the
Hartford-Brainard Airport, local police said.
The instructor is being treated at the Bridgeport Hospital's
burn center, according to East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.
The Courant identified the instructor as Arian Prevalla. A
LinkedIn profile for Prevalla lists him as the president of the
American Flight Academy, a flight school based in Hartford,
Calls to the school went unanswered on Wednesday. Prevalla
is originally from Albania and founded the academy in 2006,
according to the school's website. The academy's two locations
have a total of 21 Piper aircraft.
(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney, David Ingram and Gina
Cherelus in New York and David Shepardson and Yara Bayoumy in
Washington; Editing by Paul Simao and Diane Craft)