Aspen airport back open after private jet slides off runway

Aspen-Pitkin County airport reopens after private jet incident.

Inbound and outbound flights at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport were canceled late Monday afternoon after a private aircraft skidded off the runway, officials said. The airport returned to full operations Tuesday morning.

“It was about somewhere between 4:45 and 5 (p.m.) and a small- to medium-size jet came in and went to the side of the runway and hit a couple of runway signs and a couple of runway lights,” airport director Dan Bartholomew said Tuesday.

The two pilots and three passengers aboard the Cessna Citation aircraft were not hurt, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will look into the cause of the incident, Bartholomew said. The weather was stormy when the plane landed.

“We have a security camera, and we also take photos of the scene after an incident such as this,” he said. “That report also includes weather and friction testing on the runway, and we’ll send that off to the NTSB and they’ll open an investigation into it.”

The investigation will include interviews with the pilots and an examination of a voice recording if the aircraft was equipped with a recorder, according to Bartholomew.

The damage to the aircraft did not appear to be greatly significant, said Parker Lathrop, who is the chief deputy of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

“I would say there was moderate damage to the landing gear and there appeared to be some damage to one of the wings,” he said. “But overall, the plane appeared to be intact.”

A fuel leak, however, was cause for concern. The fuel spill occurred in the runway safety area, which is on the side of the actual runway.

“We had to construct a berm to control the fuel,” Bartholomew said.

Because the safety area was compromised, the entire runway was closed for the rest of the day and into the night, Bartholomew said.

The aircraft also was removed from the site of the incident, Parker said.