LEARJET 24D, EL PASO, TEXAS, DEC. 10, 2001–Two pilots, the only occupants, were killed when their Learjet 24D (N997TD) crashed in a remote desert area at about 6:30 p.m. and was destroyed while nearing El Paso International Airport on an IFR flight plan from Harlingen, Texas.
A spokesman for the aircraft’s operator, Air Cargo Express of Fort Wayne, Ind., told AIN the airplane was on a Part 91 positioning flight from Harlingen to El Paso, its home base. Earlier, it had unloaded cargo at Harlingen, about 500 nm southeast of El Paso. Radio and radar contact were lost shortly after the airplane was handed off by Albuquerque center to El Paso approach, about 35 mi southeast of the airport at 17,000 ft msl. The FAA said the weather was VMC.
Pilot Jerry Burnet, 63, lived in El Paso. The Air Cargo Express spokesman said that Burnet had 15,000 hr in type and more than 30,000 hr total time. He had worked for the company for about 18 months. The spokesman did not have information about the logged hours for copilot Mark Shields, 34, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., but said he was “not a high time” pilot. He had been with the company for about six months. Air Cargo Express operates seven other Learjets.