Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Cessna R182 Skylane RG, N5549S: Incident occurred April 05, 2016 at Washington County Airport (KAFJ), Washington, Pennsylvania 

Date: 05-APR-16

Time: 23:25:00Z
Regis#: N5549S
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Allegheny PFSDO-03
State: Pennsylvania


Federal officials are investigating an airplane mishap in Washington County in which a pilot landed without his landing gear extended, which the pilot blamed on being blinded by the light of the setting sun.

But some are wondering how the pilot of the Cessna 182RG  also missed hearing an emergency device that sounds like a blaring horn when the plane is coming in for a landing and the wheels are not properly deployed.

The Cessna 182RG has retractable gear, meaning its wheels can be retracted after takeoff, then lowered again when it comes in for a landing.

"He really had no explanation other than that he was blinded by the light and was distracted," said Scott Gray, manager of the Washington County Airport where the mishap occurred Tuesday evening.

Mr. Gray acknowledged he was perplexed by the incident that happened at about 7:30 p.m. when the single-engine plane belly-landed on the runway at the airport in South Franklin.

“There was nothing wrong with the landing gear. The pilot didn't choose to put it down. He said he was distracted,” Mr. Gray recounted. He spoke to the pilot following the incident.

Mr. Gray said the Cessna 182RG is equipped with a horn that blares loudly when the plane begins to slow in preparation for a landing if the landing gear is not engaged properly. "The horn goes off because it senses the gear is not down. That's the way it's supposed to work. It's a sound that's hard to miss," Mr. Gray said. He noted he can't be sure the horn was functioning properly but the pilot didn't say it wasn't.

"I asked if there was any mechanical problem and he said ‘no,’ that he got distracted by the sun in his eyes, and he forgot (to let down the landing gear,)" Mr. Gray recounted.

No one was hurt; there were no passengers in the plane.

Nothing but the plane was damaged. Its bottom was scraped and the propeller was broken. Mr. Gray said there's hardly a mark on the runway.

Asked whether the pilot appeared to be impaired in any way, Mr. Gray — who said he spoke to the pilot immediately after the accident — said he was embarrassed but appeared to be fine.

State police from the Washington barracks went to the scene but a spokesman said Wednesday no report was written.

Mr. Gray said the pilot is a local man who is a partner in the ownership of the plane which has been based at the airport for at least six years, the length of time Mr. Gray has worked there.

Until this week, said Mr. Gray, the pilot has not been involved in any odd incidents at the airport.

Mr. Gray would not identify the pilot but confirmed that the subsequent investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration potentially could result in action that could range from no penalty to the loss of a pilot's license or the requirement that additional training be undertaken by the pilot.

Investigator David Hall of the Allegheny County Flight Standards District Office of the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that an investigation would be undertaken - normal protocol in any airplane accident. But, he said he couldn't comment on an open investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board also will investigate and will issue a determination as to the cause.

Original article can be found here:

A local pilot who had just had the engine of his small plane checked in West Virginia did not deploy his landing gear but escaped injury Tuesday when the craft came down on Washington County Airport’s sole runway.

William McGowen, executive director of the Washington County Redevelopment Authority which operates the 401-acre airport southwest of Washington in North and South Franklin townships, said the incident occurred at sunset and resulted in the closure of the airport for about an hour.

Pilot Dean Gutzwiller, who was returning home from a trip to Charleston, W.Va., was alone in the four-seat, single-engine Cessna 182 Skylane at 7:25 p.m. when it came down.

McGowen, a former U.S. Navy pilot, said failure to deploy landing gear occurs because “usually something distracts you, like other traffic in the area or the sun in your eyes.”

There is no air traffic control tower at the Washington County Airport, but officials immediately issued a notice to airmen and notified Pittsburgh Approach control about the closure.

“Pittsburgh Approach is typically talking to the airplanes that are closest to us,” said Scott Gray, executive director of the Washington County Airport.

North Franklin and South Franklin volunteer fire companies, Washington County emergency services and state police responded, using flashing lights to warn aviators of trouble on the ground.

“They were Johnny on the spot,” McGowen said, noting that the crews also used spotlights as they put rigging on the plane so a crane could lift it and have the landing gear dropped so the airport’s fixed-based operator, Skyward Aviation, could tow the Cessna from the runway.

Gray said two pilots had planned to land just after the Cessna. One plane waited at the Allegheny County Airport while another was at Rostraver Airport. Both landed at the Washington County Airport after it reopened at 8:50 p.m.

“We will investigate this,” said Tim Peters, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in New York City, whose initial information called the incident a “gear-up landing.”

FAA records show the Cessna Skyward is owned by David A. Miller, an attorney in Palmer, Texas. A message left for him was not immediately returned.

Original article can be found here:

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