Cause of troubled landing unknown

The cause of a gear-up aircraft landing on Saturday has not yet been determined and remains under investigation. National Transportation Safety Board investigators still have not even found if the incident involving an Alaska Air Transit charter flight caused sufficient damage to warrant NTSB review. The investigation is in its infancy, with a preliminary report to be issued in a week to 10 days, said NTSB investigator Shaun Williams of Anchorage.

The one pilot and seven passengers all walked away from the hard landing and had no injuries, said Alaska Air Transit director of operations Dan Owen. He said he did not know why the wheels were up when the plane attempted to land. 

The incident happened about 4:10 p.m. when an inbound flight from Tatitlek in Prince William Sound tried to land as it approached from the east on Runway 22. The plane, a twin-engine Piper PA-31-350 Navajo-Chieftain, stopped at the far east end of the runway. The Homer Volunteer Fire Department responded, but did not treat or transport anyone. The incident also did not cause any fire.

The hard landing bent the props, Williams said. The Navajo-Chieftain fuel tanks are in the wings, and the plane is designed so that tanks won’t rupture in the event landing gear fails, he said.

The incident closed down the Homer Airport until about 7:30 p.m. when NTSB released the plane and it could be moved off the runway. At about 7 p.m. a crane had moved into position to move the plane. The 7:30 p.m. Ravn flight from Homer to Anchorage was cancelled and the inbound Ravn plane did not land.

An October 2013 gear-up landing involving an Era Aviation Beechcraft plane remains under investigation, Williams said. Because it involved a scheduled air carrier, the incident is being investigated by the Washington, D.C., NTSB office. A final report should be issued soon.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at