An investigation was underway Tuesday into what caused a single-engine plane to crash in a remote area of unincorporated Riverside County near Desert Center, killing the pilot.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department received a witness report of a plane crash just before 6 p.m. Thursday in a remote desert area near Corn Springs Road, a half-mile south of Interstate 10, but were initially unable locate the crash site `due to the darkness, terrain and remote area,” said Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Robyn Flores. The downed aircraft was eventually located with the help of a sheriff’s helicopter, she said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the pilot, who was not immediately identified, was the only person believed on board the Beechcraft Bonanza. He said an FAA inspector was en route to the crash site Tuesday morning.

The investigation into the crash will be led by the National Transportation Safety Board. It could take a year or more to determine the probable cause of the accident, Gregor said.

It was not immediately clear where the aircraft was headed when it crashed.

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