Investigation launched after private jet crash-lands onto Florida highway

The plane was forced into an emergency landing after the pilot said it had lost both engines, as ITV News' Olivia Guthrie reports

US federal authorities have launched an investigation after two people died when a private jet attempted to make an emergency landing on a Florida highway.

Five people were onboard the Bombardier Challenger 600 jet when it crashed on Friday at around 3.15pm (local time), according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

It was not immediately clear if the the two victims had been passengers on the plane or were on the ground, Collier County Sheriff's Office said.

The crash took place the near city of Naples, along a stretch of Interstate 75 known as Alligator Alley, and eyewitnesses said the aircraft collided with a vehicle.

An explosion shortly followed after the plane itself became engulfed in flames.

A joint-investigation will be conducted between the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), with a preliminary report expected in 30 days.

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The plane had taken off from an airport at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, at roughly 1pm (local time) and was scheduled to land in Naples around the time of the crash, a spokesperson for the Naples Airport Authority said.

A pilot had contacted the tower requesting an emergency landing, saying they had lost both engines.

The pilot was cleared to land on a runway, but replied "we're not going to make the runway. We've lost both engines", according to a tape of the call cited by the Naples Daily News.

The tower lost contact before airport workers saw smoke rising from the highway, just a few miles away, the spokesperson added.

The aircraft was operated by Hop-a-Jet Worldwide Charter, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to the FlightAware aircraft tracker, and had been scheduled to fly back to Fort Lauderdale on Friday afternoon.

Hop-a-Jet said on Friday night that it had "received confirmed reports of an accident involving one of our leased aircraft near Naples" and would send a team to the crash site.

"Our immediate concern is for the well-being of our passengers, crew members, and their families," the statement said.