Seeking Answers In Aspen Crash


Seeking Answers In Aspen Crash Investigators will focus on  Landing Conditions At Airport, Warnings On Night Instrument Landings Not Given To Controllers  

Santa Monica, CA. March 30, 2001:  Airborne Charter Inc, a subsidiary of Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc., is the owner of the Gulfstream III aircraft that crashed last night in Aspen, Colorado. The aircraft is managed and operated by Avjet Corporation in Burbank and was on a routine charter flight from Burbank to Los Angeles to Aspen.  The FAA and NTSB have confirmed that 18 fatalities of which 15 were passengers and 3 were crew members. None of the passengers were employees of Airborne or Cinergi. 

The Gulfstream III approached the Aspen-Pitkin County, Colo. Airport on instruments in bad weather on Thursday night when it crashed near the runway. Two days earlier, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice saying planes should not make instrument landings at the airport at night, said Carol Carmody, the National Transportation Safety Board's acting chairwoman.


Carmody said pilots leaving other airports for Aspen had received the notice, but controllers at the Aspen airport had not, and were not warning incoming pilots. Carmody said she did not know why the notice had not reached the Aspen tower personnel. There may have been some confusion about the notice because it was not worded clearly, she said. Three planes trying to land before the Gulfstream had been forced to abort approaches. Only one managed to land. Controllers also did not turn away a plane carrying Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, which landed at the airport a little over an hour after the crash. Carmody said crews would begin removing the wreckage of the plane from a hillside near the mountain airport Sunday; work was expected to be completed by Tuesday.

The airport's single runway is surrounded by mountains that force approaching aircraft to make steep descents. It is tricky to land there, even on clear days. Al Dickinson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board team examining the crash, said weather was so bad Thursday that the jet should not have tried to land. The National Weather Service reported light snow at the time of the 7 p.m. crash. Visibility dropped from 10 miles to less than two miles in about 20 minutes just before the plane went down.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a team of investigators to the site of a chartered Gulfstream G3 (N303GA). The crash occurred at about 7:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. Investigator-in-Charge Al Dickinson will lead the 10-member team. NTSB Acting Chairman Carol Carmody is accompanying the team and will serve as spokesperson for the on-scene investigation.  Terry Williams is the press officer.  In addition, two NTSB family affairs specialists are on their way to Aspen.

The team departed from Reagan National Airport at about 6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time aboard a government aircraft and is expected to arrive in Aspen around 7:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. The aircraft's cockpit voice recorder has been recovered from the wreckage and will be sent to the NTSB's laboratory in Washington later today.
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