Saturday, January 18, 2020

Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain, N4112K: Accident occurred January 12, 2020 at Fairbanks International Airport (PAFA), Alaska

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska
Hageland Aviation Services; Anchorage, Alaska

Location: Fairbanks, AK 
Accident Number: ANC20LA013
Date & Time: 01/12/2020, 1223 AKS
Registration: N4112K
Aircraft: Piper PA31
Injuries: 8 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Scheduled 

On January 12, 2020, about 1223 Alaska standard time, a Piper PA-31-350 airplane, N4112K, sustained substantial damage after landing with the right main landing gear retracted at Fairbanks International Airport (FAI,) Fairbanks, Alaska. The airline transport pilot and six passengers and lap infant were uninjured. The airplane was operated as Flight 3546 by Hageland Aviation Services, dba RavnAir Connect, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a visual flight rules scheduled commuter flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan was filed. The flight originated from FAI about 0855 destined for Edward G. Pitka Sr. Airport (GAL), Galena, Alaska, before diverting back to FAI for an emergency landing.

The pilot reported that as the airplane approached GAL, she moved the landing gear selector to the down position and the gear did not extend, the landing gear indicator lights did not illuminate, and the selector did not return to the neutral position. She repeated the landing gear extension procedures again; however, the landing gear did not extend. She then checked that all the circuit breakers were in and used the checklist to perform the emergency landing gear extension procedures. According to the pilot, she pumped the hand-operated emergency gear extender about 70 times but there was low feedback pressure in the system. When the landing gear still did not extend, she diverted back to FAI where emergency services and a maintenance crew were available.

In the FAI terminal area, the pilot activated the emergency blowdown pneumatic system for both the main and nose landing gear. The green landing lights for the nose and left main landing gear illuminated, but the right main landing gear light did not indicate down. The pilot performed a flyby of the FAI tower and the tower controller reported that the right main landing gear door was open, but the gear remained retracted. The pilot flew to a nearby training area, climbed to 5,000 ft, and attempted to swing the right main landing gear out with higher G maneuvers, but was unsuccessful.

The pilot performed a straight in visual approach to FAI runway 2L. Once the landing was assured, she feathered and secured both engines. During the landing roll, the right wing impacted the runway, resulting in substantial damage to the right wing and aileron. All occupants evacuated normally.

The airplane was recovered to the company hangar, where a Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the hydraulic system. The hydraulic reservoir was depleted, and minimal fluid existed in the system. After servicing and testing the hydraulic system, a leak was observed at the fitting between the right main landing gear door close line and unlock actuator. Also, the company tested the pneumatic blowdown system and discovered the right main landing gear shuttle valve was inoperative. The shuttle valve was disassembled, and water and corrosion were present inside.

The FAI automated weather report at 1153 indicated calm winds and a temperature of -29°F and dewpoint -38°F.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N4112K
Model/Series: PA31 350
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Hageland Aviation Services
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter Air Carrier (135)
Operator Does Business As: RavnAir Connect
Operator Designator Code: EPUA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAFA, 432 ft msl
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: -34°C / -39°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 8000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.16 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Fairbanks, AK (FAI)
Destination: Galena, AK (GAL)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 7 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 8 None
Latitude, Longitude: 64.811667, -147.869722 (est)

The pilot of a twin-engine plane operated by Ravn Air Group made an emergency landing Sunday afternoon at Fairbanks International Airport when the aircraft’s landing gear malfunctioned.

Airport Fire and Police Chief Aaron Danielson says none of the seven passengers aboard the Piper Navajo were injured when the aircraft skidded to a stop at around 1 p.m. Sunday.

“The pilot did a great job. It coasted to a good landing with little damage to the aircraft and safety to all the passengers and crew involved,” Danielson said in an interview Monday.

The chief says the flight was en route to Galena but was diverted back to Fairbanks when the pilot realized there was a problem with the landing gear on the right side of the aircraft.

“They couldn’t get their landing gear down as they’re approaching Galena and so they returned to Fairbanks for an emergency landing,” he said.

Danielson says the pilot flew past the control tower a few times after he got to Fairbanks International at about 12:30 p.m. to have tower personnel confirm that the landing gear was indeed stuck, “because they can’t see underneath their own aircraft.”

He says the pilot and tower kept in constant communication to plan and prepare for the landing. He says pilots train how to set the plane down is such circumstances.

“They generally put it down real light, try to keep any part that’s not supported by the landing gear off the runway as long as possible, and put it down as gently as possible.”

Danielson says that’s exactly what the pilot did. But audio recorded by a passenger and uploaded onto social media suggests it was still a harrowing experience. You can hear some anxious comments a few seconds into this clip -- and then a compliment to the pilot’s skill.    

A statement issued by Ravn says the aircraft’s right aileron and flap were lightly damaged during the emergency landing. The company says the aircraft will be out of service until it’s repaired, inspected and test flown.

The statement says Ravn is in communication with both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for help in determining why the gear malfunctioned. Spokespersons for the NTSB and Ravn didn’t return calls Monday afternoon for additional information, including the answer to the question: did the passengers finally get to Galena?

Story and video ➤

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