Investigation Underway Into BizJet Crash

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De-Icing, Runway Choices Scrutinized...

The NTSB is looking at the choice of runway and the lack of de-icing prior to the crash of a Bombardier Challenger CL-600 in Montrose, Colo., on Sunday morning that killed three of the six people on board. The jet carried NBC sports executive Dick Ebersol and members of his family, and had landed at Montrose in snowy conditions to drop off Ebersol's wife, actress Susan St. James. It stayed on the ground for about 45 minutes to an hour and was not de-iced, the NTSB said. The pilot chose not to wait for the 10,000-foot runway, 17/35, to be plowed, and instead chose 13/31, which is 7,500 feet long. The accident (so far) appears no more unusual than Sunday's -- or any day's -- other fatal accidents, but for the familiarity of those involved and the fact that it involved a business jet. Altitude at the airport is 5,759 feet. The jet ran off the departure end of the runway, impacted a fence and terrain, and caught fire. Ebersol and his son Charles survived the crash, but his 14-year-old son Edward died, along with the pilot, Luis Alberto Polanco Espaillat, and flight attendant Warren T. Richardson III. The co-pilot, Eric Wicksell, yesterday was in critical condition at a Denver hospital.

The Challenger was owned by Jet Alliance/Air Castle Corporation and operated by Global Aviation as Glow Air Flight 73, and had been built in 1985, the NTSB said. The flight's destination was South Bend, Ind. Investigators said yesterday they have recovered 31 minutes of conversation from the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder. No flight data recorder was on board. Senior Investigator Arnold Scott from the NTSB's Denver office is in charge of the investigation.