Aspen airport remains closed after private jet crash

ASPEN, Colo. –The Aspen-Pitkin County Airport remained closed Monday night and there was no timetable for when it would reopen following the crash of a private jet Sunday.

The wreckage of the plane remained on the runway as officials from the National Transportation Safety Board began their investigation Monday.

The copilot of the 22-seat Bombardier Challenger 600 was killed. He’s identified as Emilio Carranza Brabata, 54, of Mexico. Two other men on the plane, Miguel Angel Henriquez and Moises Carranza Brabata, also of Mexico were injured and in St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction Monday.

All three men are pilots and they were the only people on board. The survivors have moderate to severe traumatic injuries.

Buses carried about 200 stranded passengers from Aspen to Denver International Airport Monday. The first four outbound flights from Aspen were canceled Tuesday. Buses were scheduled to leave for Denver at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.

The plane burst into flames when it crashed while landing Sunday afternoon according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

The pilot of the twin-engine jet earlier reported high winds during a previous attempt to land, according to a recording of the air traffic control radio transmission. The crash occurred about 12:23 p.m. as they came in for another try.

“Missed approach, N115WF.  33 knots of tail wind,” the pilot is heard saying a few minutes before the crash.

The aircraft flipped over on impact and became fully engulfed in flames, police said.

According to the flight tracking website Flightaware.com, the aircraft was on a flight from Tucson, Ariz.

“Right now, we have no indication that there was anything wrong prior to landing. However, we do have investigators on scene,” PCSO spokesman Alex Burchetta said.

Multiple witnesses tweeted about seeing the accident. Celebrities Kevin Nealon and LeAnn Rimes Cibrian were both apparently in the area.

Many pilots consider the airport a challenging destination due to the surrounding mountains. A private jet crash at the airport in 2001 killed all 18 people aboard.