The private Bombardier CL600 business jet which crashed at Aspen-Pitkin county airport, Colorado, on 5 January landed with a high, gusting tailwind, bounced and turned over, killing one of the pilots and seriously injuring the sole passenger and the other pilot.

The US National Transportation Safety Board’s initial statement on the accident said the aircraft was attempting to land on runway 15, which was designated as the runway in use – despite strong tailwinds – because of strict local noise abatement rules.

Aspen Journalism

The aircraft was inbound from Tucson, Arizona, operating on an instrument flight rules flightplan, and the conditions at Aspen during the approach were full visual meteorological conditions. Aspen airport is considered very tricky for approaches and departures because it is surrounded by high terrain, which also causes windshear and turbulence.

At the first attempt the crew decided to go around, and the NTSB described what occurred when they returned for the second landing attempt: “N115WF briefly touched down on the runway, then bounced into the air and descended rapidly, impacting with the ground at midfield. No further communications were received by ATC from the accident airplane.”

The aircraft came to rest inverted and caught fire. The windspeed recorded at the time was 290˚ at 19kt (35km/h) gusting to 25kt, which gives the pilots almost a full tailwind vector to deal with.

The aircraft was being operated by Vineland Corporation, Panama, under US Federal Aviation Regulation FAR Part 91 rules covering private operations.