Co-pilot killed in Teterboro plane crash identified

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Cleanup of the fatal plane crash has begun on Wednesday May 17, 2017. Tariq Zehawi/NorthJersey.com

A Union native was identified on Wednesday as the co-pilot in the deadly plane crash in Carlstadt, officials said, as crews began the cleanup of the site.

Jeffrey Alino, 33, was on the twin-engine plane that crashed Monday near Teterboro Airport after dropping off passengers in Philadelphia, authorities said. The Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name.

Alino’s parents could not be reached for comment, but other loved ones took to social media to offer their condolences.

“We just spoke about planning a cruise together because the one I booked was too full so you couldn’t make it on,” wrote Janice Snaer, who identified herself as a cousin, in a Facebook post. “We will miss your smile, laughter, passion to live life and upbeat self.”

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When Alino was a student pilot in Texas in 2010, he had to make an emergency landing in a field outside of Austin, said his instructor, Jerry White. At the time, White said, Alino was trying to obtain his instrument rating, which would allow him to fly in clouds.

“There was an issue with the fuel selector on the airplane about an hour into the lesson,” said White. “We were approaching Austin-Bergstrom Airport.” 

Alino and White were still in communication as recently as last week.

“All students struggle. In that aspect, he was an average student,” White said. “Jeff called me the week before [the crash]. It’s always sad in this community when someone dies.”

Alino had four years of piloting experience with charter companies operating mainly in New Mexico and Arizona, said a spokesman for the charter company that operated the plane, Hawaii-based Trans-Pacific Jets. 

“He ideally wanted to fly commercial airlines,” said Alino’s friend Chris McKenzie. The two met in Los Angeles, where Alino was living at the time of his death. “My heart sank. He wanted to settle down and have a wife and family. He loved L.A.”

The pilot of the plane, who has not been identified, had worked for the company for about a year and had 20 years of experience flying for various charter operations in the western United States, the charter company spokesman said.

The two pilots had decided to return to Teterboro Airport on Monday so they could spend the night in a familiar New York hotel, the spokesman said. He added that the plane was being repositioned to Teterboro for flights scheduled for later in the week.

Earlier Wednesday, cleanup crews were seen entering the crash site with about five flatbed tow trucks and two forklift-like machines. A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the scene was still active and that the National Transportation Safety Board would continue sifting through the wreckage of the 1981 Learjet 35 as cleanup efforts began.

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Officers from the Carlstadt Police Department, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, the Bergen County Police Department and the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management, along with NTSB investigators, were on the scene.

Investigators who have slowly been going through the debris found several personal items, including suitcases. A cadaver dog from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office was at the scene, still searching for human remains.

Employees of United Group, whose building at 99 Kero Road was severely damaged in the crash, were removing papers and documents from the building and moving them to 85 Kero Road. The owner is allowing United Group to use the building until another solution can be figured out, Carlstadt Police Chief Thomas Nielson said. The roof of United Group’s building was burned, and an employee said the inside of the building was “heavily damaged.”

A flatbed truck from Nick’s Towing Service of Rutherford was seen carting away one of the several burned-out cars from the scene, and forklifts cleared away a trail of burned-out cars from the Manhattan Door property. The Manhattan Door building was the first to be hit by the plane as it crashed. All the damaged cars have been spray-painted with ID numbers.

Jim Silliman, who is in charge of the NTSB investigation, said Tuesday the plane’s voice cockpit recorder was being examined at the agency’s national headquarters but that he did not expect to learn anything from it until Thursday. He said investigators expected to be on scene for several days and that a preliminary report on the crash could be issued in about a week.

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Investigators were still placing pieces of the plane on the parking lot where it crashed on Monday to catalog them before sending them to a secure storage facility in Delaware, Silliman said Tuesday. He said he could not discuss what kind of information the NTSB has been gathering. Silliman said weather was one of the factors being considered, and he cited wind gusts of up to 37 mph reported at Teterboro at about the time of the accident.

Just 10 minutes before the 3:30 p.m. crash, another pilot taking off from Teterboro had reported wind shear — a change in wind velocity that can turn a plane, Silliman said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the type of pilot rating Jeffrey Alino was trying to qualify for in 2010. It was an instrument rating.

Staff Writers Abbott Koloff, Kaitlyn Kanzler, Tariq Zehawi and James M. O’Neill contributed to this article.

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