October 31, 2014 / 11:10 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Bodies not yet recovered from site of Kansas airport plane crash

(Adds details from NTSB investigator)

By Alice Mannette

WICHITA, Kan., Oct 31 (Reuters) - The bodies of four people killed when a small twin-engine turboprop airplane crashed into a building at Wichita’s airport remained in the smoldering ruins on Friday as federal officials investigated the crash, officials said.

A demolition contractor has been called in to make sure the Flight Safety International building is stable enough for crews to remove the dead, Wichita city spokesman Dale Goter said.

Pilots from around the world go to Wichita for initial and continuing training for Cessna aircraft in the flight simulators in the building that was struck Thursday morning by a Beechcraft King Air airplane, which had lost power in one engine after taking off.

“They’ll come out as soon as we can get them out safely,” Goter said.

The airplane ripped into the roof of the building and set off an explosion and fire killing three people who were in a flight simulator in the building and the pilot, who was alone in the airplane. Safety concerns forced firefighters from the building on Thursday, where some walls and ceilings collapsed.

“There is still some smoldering on the roof,” Goter said Friday, adding that parts of the building must be removed before crews can enter.

Five people were injured in the building. One person was listed in serious condition at a local hospital on Friday and four people were treated on Thursday for injuries and released.

The pilot reported losing power in the left engine shortly after taking off from the airport and the plane crashed as he tried to return, federal investigators have said.

Three witnesses have said the airplane started to drift to the left side of the runway after takeoff and then made a steep left bank into the building, Josh Lindberg, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said on Friday.

The airplane had undergone two maintenance test flights and showed no issues before the Thursday flight, Lindberg said.

The NTSB hopes to interview more witnesses and gain access to the crash site on Saturday, he said. They hope to recover a cockpit voice recorder and a digital flight data recorder for analysis, he said.

Authorities said more than 100 people were believed to have been in the building, which was operated by FlightSafety International, a Berkshire Hathaway Inc company. (Reporting by Alice Mannette in Wichita and Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Eric Beech)

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