A tourist plane crashed and burned near the Grand Canyon, killing all seven people aboard in the area's third major accident involving sightseeing aircraft in five years, authorities said.
The single-engine plane went down Monday in Kaibab National Forest four miles from the canyon rim, said Bill Pribil, chief deputy sheriff.Killed were the pilot and the six German and Swiss tourists on the Air Grand Canyon flight, officials said.
The plane had set out from Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan and apparently clipped several tall pines 10 miles away, said Sheriff's Capt. Sam Whitted.
The plane nosed into the ground and exploded, starting a fire that blackened 21/2 acres of brush before being brought under control, Whitted said.
A collision between a plane and a helicopter over the canyon in 1986 killed 25 people. Both aircraft carried sightseers.
That crash, combined with complaints about noise from sightseeing flights, prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to restrict flights over the canyon in 1988. The rules ban planes from four zones over the park.
Acting airport manager Jerry Bettendorf said he believed Monday's crash occurred outside the restricted zones.
Ten people were killed in 1989 when a canyon sightseeing plane crashed into a hill after an aborted landing. Investigators blamed pilot error and poor communication among the crew for the crash of the Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter.
Grand Canyon Airport has become Arizona's third-busiest, handling up to 1,000 flights per day.