(CNN) — A twin-engine plane crashed into a Chicago house shortly after takeoff from Midway International Airport early Tuesday, killing the pilot and narrowly missing a couple who were sleeping in the residence, officials said.
The pilot of the Aerocommander 500 cargo plane reported engine problems and asked controllers to let him return to Midway shortly before the craft slammed into the house about a quarter-mile short of a runway at 2:42 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
The craft smashed into a living room, stopping just 8 inches from a couple who were sleeping in an adjacent bedroom in the 1.5-story brick house just southeast of the airport, Chicago Fire Department official Michael Fox said. The couple were not injured.
“They were very lucky. … They were in a bedroom next to the living room, and the living room is gone,” said Fox, the fire department’s chief of special operations.
The name of the pilot, who was the only person aboard the craft, was not immediately released.
The pilot was trying to land at Midway when the crash happened, said Tim Sorensen, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.
Video from CNN affiliate WGN shows the tail of the plane sticking out of the home’s smashed front end. Firefighters put a layer of foam on leaking aviation fuel before it could reach an ignition source and start a fire, Fox said.
The pilot had intended to fly to an Ohio State University airport near Columbus, according to the FAA.
An investigation into what caused the crash will take up to a year, but a preliminary report could be released in a week, Sorensen said.