Crashed Hawker 800XP at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport
Aspen-Pitkin County's board of commissioners has approved the establishment of a panel of seasoned pilots to examine operations at KASE and make recommendations to improve safety. The airport has seen more than 40 general aviation accidents over the past few decades. (Photo: Aspen-Pitkin County Airport)

Aspen Airport Establishes Safety Task Force

The Colorado facility’s altitude, surrounding mountainous terrain, weather, and a sloping runway pose challenges for pilots.

Given Colorado’s Aspen-Pitkin County Airport’s (KASE) reputation as an operationally challenging destination, the county board of commissioners recently approved the establishment of a flight operations safety task force. The Aspen/Pitkin County Vision Committee recommended to the commission the establishment of an advisory group composed of 12 local pilots to maximize safety and reduce aviation accidents.

Over the past several decades, the airport has experienced dozens of general aviation accidents in its vicinity due to factors such as its altitude, surrounding mountainous terrain, weather, and a sloping runway.

This past year alone, the facility was closed on four occasions after aircraft accidents that, while causing no fatalities or serious injuries, led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in airport property damage. On February 21, a Hawker 800XP overran the runway during an aborted takeoff, seriously damaging the aircraft and causing a fuel spill. This accident also closed the airport for nine hours.

Among the seasoned aviators whose attention will focus primarily on general aviation safety are FlightAware founder Daniel Baker, ForeFlight founder and commercial pilot Tyson Weihs, Mayo Aviation pilot William Landis, and retired commercial pilot Brett Detwiler.

The task force will formulate recommendations for consideration by the airport advisory board and the county board of commissioners, as well as liaise with various aviation organizations.