St. George Regional Airport runway shut down when plane makes ‘belly-landing’

ST. GEORGE – A mechanical malfunction on an airplane attempting to land at the St. George Regional Airport resulted in a brief closure of the airport’s runway Saturday morning.

A Piper Comanche aircraft sits on the runway after a malfunction forced the pilot to land at the St. George Regional Airport with the landing gear up, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

At 9:45 a.m. airport emergency personnel were dispatched to the incident involving a a single-engine Piper Comanche airplane after the pilot notified the operations center they were unable to lower the landing gear, St. George City Communications Director David Cordero said.

The airport made preparations for a “gear up” landing, while the plane circled the airport for approximately 30 minutes to give the pilot time to continue trying to put the landing gear down and to burn as much fuel as possible to reduce the weight of the aircraft.

The pilot managed to land on the runway safely without causing additional damage to the aircraft or injuring either of the two occupants.

“Thankfully, they had a successful belly-landing and both were uninjured and walked away,” Cordero said.

A Piper Comanche aircraft is towed from the runway after the pilot landed at the St. George Regional Airport with the landing gear up, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The runway was shut down for more than 45 minutes to allow responders to remove the disabled plane.

Airport operations crews lifted the aircraft using straps before it was towed to the hangar where it will remain until it can be scheduled for repairs.

Cordero said there were no reports of damage to the runway.

Saturday’s incident was categorized as an “Alert 2” emergency by the Federal Aviation Administration. An “Alert 1” is when an aircraft is having minor difficulties but a safe landing is expected; an “Alert 2” involves an aircraft that is having major difficulties, such as a fire on board, where a difficult or crash landing can be expected; and an “Alert 3” involves a plane that has already crashed or has a high probability of crashing.

Personnel from the St. George Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance also responded to assist.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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