By Dillon Thomas
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – As the National Transportation Safety Board continues their investigation into what caused a small aircraft to crash over the weekend, some residents in Arapahoe County are raising concerns over the safety of living and working near Centennial Airport.
“I know that the risk of a plane crashing around here is almost zero,” said Ryan Sarni, president of a nearby homeowner’s association. “But, it is still greater than zero.”
Sarni said Saturday afternoon’s crash was a reminder that living near the airport does come with inherent risk, and annoyances. Sarni said his HOA has filed previous complaints about planes causing excess sound over his neighborhood. However, he said the risk of a plane crashing into a home is also a concern.
A single engine Piper Cherokee aircraft crashed to the south of the airport’s 17L runway, which is the opposite end of the runway from where Sarni lives. One person was sent to the hospital with injuries and another was released after being treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Centennial Airport confirmed the aircraft was based at the airport. However, FAA records obtained by CBS4 suggested the aircraft may have been recently purchased, or transferred, in the past 10 days.
So far the NTSB has not released a cause for the crash. However, South Metro Fire officials confirmed the incident was the second crash landing of an aircraft in the Western Union parking lot.
The last incident happened in 2006.
Although the most recent crash did not happen in Sarni’s neighborhood, previously planes have crash landed nearby.
“The chances of it happening are tiny. But, we want it to be zero,” Sarni said.
A Centennial Airport spokeswoman told CBS4 there were only four fatalities in the past 10 years that were connected to the airport. Three of those fatalities happened on airport land. Several other aircrafts crashed nearby, but did not result in deaths.
“When you look at the numbers and you look at our operations, we rank about average,” said Deborah Smith.
Smith said the airport averaged at least one landing, or takeoff, every minute of the year in 2016, almost all of which took place safely.
Other nearby residents noted the airport was built long before businesses and homes were built nearby.
Centennial Airport officials said they follow all federal laws when it comes to operating an airport near a residential area. The airport advises nearby communities with information about their operations, even though they are not required to.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.