Aspen Airport reopens Tuesday, investigation into fatal crash ongoing

Emergency crews respond after a private plane crashed at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport on Jan. 5, 2014. (Credit: Brent Gardner-Smith - Aspen Journalism)

Emergency crews respond after a private plane crashed at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport on Jan. 5, 2014. (Credit: Brent Gardner-Smith - Aspen Journalism)

ASPEN, Colo. — Though a National Transportation Safety Board investigation continues, the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport reopened Tuesday morning two days after a plane crash crippled the small airport and killed one person.

The airport reopened at 7 a.m., with the first flights out headed to Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. Those flights were cancelled on Sunday afternoon, shortly after the private plane crashed on the airport’s lone runway.

However, considering there is still a backlog of flights due to all the departures that were cancelled over the last two days, some passengers were still being bused to Grand Junction and Denver for rescheduled flights Tuesday morning, the airport wrote in a press release.

The airport indicated there was not significant damage made to the runway by the wreck, but that emergency workers spent Monday making minor repairs.

After critical components of the investigation into the plane crash was mostly complete, airport officials said the destroyed plane was loaded onto a trailer and removed from the runway over a four-hour period on Monday night.

The copilot of the 22-seat Bombardier Challenger 600 that went down on Sunday afternoon was killed. He has been 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.

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.

Determining the exact cause of the plane crash is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, investigators said.