Grant Aviation says it wasn’t a mechanical problem that forced one its planes to belly flop at the Unalaska airport last month.
Beyond that, airline officials are keeping quiet about the accident’s cause -- at least for now.
“We’ve all got our theories," said Rob Kelly, Grant's chief financial officer. "But if we say something and the investigation concludes differently, that’s not a good position for us to be in.”
Although Grant is waiting on official findings from the National Transportation Safety Board, the southwest Alaska carrier has already taken action that may point toward human error.
“The pilot is no longer employed by us,” said Kelly.
That pilot was flying two passengers from Akun Island to Unalaska when the accident occurred Feb. 14. As it arrived on the island, the aircraft -- a Super King Air 200 -- touched down without landing gear.
No injuries were reported. Kelly said the plane’s engines and propellers bore the brunt of the impact.
“It looks like there may be significant damage to the engines, so we’re not sure if they’ll be able to be restored,” he said.
While Grant assesses whether the plane can be repaired, Kelly said the airline has sent a replacement and flight service is operating normally around the region.
The last time Grant recorded a crash in Unalaska was about four years ago, when a plane’s landing gear failed to deploy in strong cross winds. No one was injured, but the aircraft never flew again.
Officials say weather was not a factor in last month's accident.
FAA Flight Standards District Office: Anchorage
Aircraft landed gear up.
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: B200
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Aircraft Operator: GRANT AVIATION
A small airplane landed on its belly Tuesday at the Unalaska airport. No one aboard was injured, but the accident shut down the runway for about four hours.
Returning from Akun Island, the Grant Aviation plane touched down without landing gear around 1:30 p.m., according to a statement by the Alaska State Troopers (AST).
The pilot and two passengers exited safely and declined medical attention. But the aircraft -- a Beech B200 Super King Air -- sat on the runway with bent propeller blades for several hours before officials could bring a crane to move it.
Grant Aviation officials didn’t immediately return calls for comment, but a mechanic at the airport said he didn’t know why the plane came down without landing gear.
The runway sustained minimal damage, according to a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT). The extent of damage to the plane is still unclear.
The AST and DOT are investigating the cause of the accident, according to a statement by the Unalaska Department of Public Safety.