Plane crash at PBIA: Sole survivor dies from injuries

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Palm Beach International Airport officials say a fourth person has died after a small plane crashed during a flight school training exercise.

Update, FRI 10:30 AM:

The Federal Aviation Administration reports the twin-engine Piper PA-44 crashed during takeoff and exploded in flames Thursday evening.

The victims were not identified. One passenger was taken by helicopter to an area hospital and later died. It took firefighters nearly 15 minutes to free a man from the wreckage.

Records show the plane was owned by Melbourne flight school FIT Aviation LLC.

Florida Institute of Technology and flight school officials said two students, a flight instructor and another passenger were onboard.

The plane was heading back to Melbourne from the Bahamas during a training exercise.

Previously: A small airplane has crashed at Palm Beach International Airport, killing three on board, according to West Palm Beach fire-rescue officials. One survivor has been transported to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

Four people were reported to be on board the Piper Seminole PA-44 airplane that crashed during takeoff shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday. The plane was reportedly en route to Melbourne.

Fire officials have confirmed three people are dead in the crash and the survivor was in critical condition.

A West Palm Beach Fire-Rescue battalion chief said the plane had been cleared for takeoff. It appears the plane had begun its takeoff and gained some altitude when a problem developed. Neither the airport nor the FAA could immediately identify the pilot or the passengers.

Records show the plane was owned by FIT Aviation LLC, a Melbourne flight school owned by Florida Institute of Technology.

FIT Aviation has 40 aircraft and has several Seminoles in its inventory. The plane that crashed was built in 2008, according to FAA records.

Wreckage on the tarmac, visible to passengers exiting into the PBIA terminal, is minimal as it appears a fire consumed much of the small plane.

Part of the fuselage, an engine and a wing are visible, with a yellow tarp draped over the exposed fuselage in one area of wreckage nearest the PBIA terminal. Another bit of wreckage, a couple hundred feet away, is indistinguishable. Both are covered with fire retardant foam.

The crash site is between the gates of terminals B and C east of the airport's fire station.

Flights at PBIA continued after the crash Thursday night with few or no delays.

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