Runway scare in Fort Smith
Faulty gear blamed in emergency landing

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (May 08/00) - A Beech 99 aircraft skidded to safety following an emergency landing last Friday, when the plane's landing gear malfunctioned.

Two Northwestern Air Lease pilots were on a routine training flight out of Fort Smith, when they realized they had a problem, said Sgt. Marion Lamothe of the Fort Smith RCMP.

"There were two people on board during a training flight and they left Fort Smith airport at about 11:35," Lamothe said. "They noticed almost immediately that there was a problem with one of the landing gears."

Lamothe said emergency vehicles responded and were on the runway when the crippled plane came in on one wheel.

"They did go through emergency procedures and stayed in communication with radio operators at the tower at the airport," he said. "They landed safely, both the pilot and the trainee walked away uninjured -- there was no smoke, no fire.

"The plane ended-up on its right wing -- it looked like the right-hand landing gear sort of collapsed," Lamothe said.

"Very, very, minor by plane crash standards, I must say," he added.

Terry Harrold who, with his son Brian, owns Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. said the pilots knew they had a problem and planned for the landing.

"They knew (the landing gear) wasn't locked down, they just weren't sure if it would collapse or not," he said. "There was a malfunction in the undercarriage."

The two pilots were experienced and the training is just part of the regular routine, Harrold said.

"They've been with us for quite a while. They do training every year," he said.

On initial inspection, Harrold said there doesn't appear to be much damage to the aircraft.

"There's not much damage at all," he added. "Just the wing tip and the prop really."

Northwestern would not speculate as to the cost of damages to the aircraft.