ASN Aircraft accident Learjet 24A N31SK Eagle, CO
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Friday 27 March 1987
Type:Silhouette image of generic LJ24 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Learjet 24A
Operator:Connie Kalitta Services
Registration: N31SK
MSN: 24-118
First flight: 1966
Total airframe hrs:8432
Engines: 2 General Electric CJ610-6
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Total:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:7,5 km (4.7 mls) NW of Eagle, CO (   United States of America)
Crash site elevation: 2438 m (7999 feet) amsl
Phase: Approach (APR)
Departure airport:Denver-Stapleton International Airport, CO (DEN/KDEN), United States of America
Destination airport:Vail-Eagle County Airport, CO (EGE/KEGE), United States of America
A Gates Learjet 24A was on a positioning flight from Denver (DEN) to Eagle (EGE) to enplane a patient for a medical evacuation flight.
The pilot of N31SK reported passing the STUPE intersection, and was cleared by ATC for landing at Eagle. Shortly before the accident, the pilot reported "eight to ten miles out, and it’s clear to Eagle." The pilot had presumably elected to fly the circle-to-land LDA-A runway 07 approach to Eagle. The pilot descended well below the altitudes specified for this approach, but may have done so because he could see the airport. Post-crash investigation showed the pilot would have had the airport in sight for all but the last one to three seconds of flight, when the uninhabited, unlit mountain ridge obstructed his view. Only a very small adjustment to the aircraft’s controls would have been required to gain the additional 22 feet of altitude necessary to clear the ridge. However, lacking visual reference, the pilot was unable to see the terrain until it was too late. The aircraft impacted an 8022 feet mountain ridge at the 8000 feet level, approximately 4 NM northwest of Eagle airport on a heading of 195° magnetic. N31SK was in approach configuration at impact.
The crew could have been misled by the Jeppesen approach charts which did not accurately depict terrain obstructions within the 5-mile radius of the airport.

Probable Cause:

planned approach..improper..pilot in command
proper altitude..not maintained..pilot in command
terrain condition..mountainous/hilly
preflight planning/preparation..inadequate..pilot in command
lack of familiarity with geographic area..pilot in command
light condition..dark night
approach charts..inaccurate
minimum descent altitude..disregarded..pilot in command

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 3 months
Accident number: FTW87NA086
Download report: Summary report

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain


Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 2 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Learjet-24A-N31SK
Descent profile

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Denver-Stapleton International Airport, CO to Vail-Eagle County Airport, CO as the crow flies is 174 km (109 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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