Plane lands ‘gear-up,’ shutting St. George Regional airport runway down

ARFF responds to landing accident at the St. George Regional Airport when plane lands without landing gear engaged Wednesday, St. George, Utah, Sept. 20, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — St. George Regional Airport’s sole runway was closed after a pilot landed a single-engine aircraft without lowering the landing gear Wednesday morning.

Shortly after 9 a.m. airport emergency personnel were dispatched to an incident involving a Cessna Centurion 210 that landed on the runway without its landing gear fully extended, otherwise known as a “gear-up” landing, St. George Regional Airport manager, Richard Stehmeier said.

When a “gear-up” landing occurs the landing gear is not locked into place, so the underside, or belly, of the aircraft becomes the primary landing device, he said.

The plane hit the ground and slid along the asphalt for several seconds before it came to a stop, damaging the aircraft’s propellers in the process.

“Without the landing gear locked the plane lands on its belly and usually the damage is confined to the props,” Stehmeier said, “as the tips are bent back when they hit the asphalt.”

The pilot was able to exit the aircraft on his own and was uninjured.

Meanwhile, airport personnel contacted the Federal Aviation Administration as required, and once cleared were able to move the aircraft.

Airport operations then responded and lifted the aircraft using straps before it was towed to the hangar. The landing gear was locked into place and the aircraft was lowered onto the hangar floor, where it will remain until repairs are scheduled.

The runway was shut down for approximately 30 minutes to allow responders to remove the aircraft and clear the runway.

“With an airplane that size it really doesn’t take much to move it once we get the clearance from the FAA,” Stehmeier said, and we try and get these situations handled as quickly as possible which was the case today,” Stehmeier said.

The delay affected two cargo flights, one UPS flight and a FedEx arrival, that both circled in the air until the runway was reopened and it was safe to land.

No damage to airport property was reported.

The accident was triggered when the pilot failed to lower the landing gear, Stehmeier said, either because of a distraction or he may have forgotten to do so, which happens more often than people may think.

There may be some truth to that statement.

Gear-up landings are not uncommon, and usually occur when the pilot becomes distracted, according to an Interior Department bulletin released in May 2017 discussing “Unstoppable Approach.”

The bulletin also released statistics showing that most nonfatal accidents occur during landing, and “gear-up” landings are the third most common landing mishap.

This type of accident represents a substantial percentage of the cost of flying and can happen to pilots of all experience levels, yet the financial carnage can be staggering.

Dwayne Adams with the Aviation Services Group in St. George said that these landings can lead to repair costs ranging between $60,000 to $70,000.

“There’s nothing standard with aircraft repairs, but that range is just an estimate without knowing the details of the landing,” Adams said.

The airport reopened without further incident and without injury.

“We are all human, and we make mistakes,” Stehmeier said, adding, “We just try and keep the mistakes to the type that don’t kill us.”

This report is based on statements from airport officials and others and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • DRT September 20, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    “They,” whoever they are, say that any landing you can walk away from is a good one. But this crash does lead to some speculation. Was the pilot texting while flying, or texting while trying to land? 🙂

    • DB September 21, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Pilots are taught to follow certain rituals that will keep them safe. One of them is to refer to a checklist to ensure that all is taken care of at certain critical times. In this case, this may have not happened. I seriously doubt the pilot was texting, though.

      • DB September 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm

        It’s also possible that he knew the gear was inoperable before before he attempted the landing. At a large airport, all audio would have been recorded. At St George, not sure. Maybe we are jumping to conclusions.

  • Foxyheart September 20, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    I’m sorry, but the plane in the photo appears to not to be able to retract its landing gear. I am afraid the photo is mislabeled. How about showing us the correct plane?

    • DB September 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      You’re right, wrong plane, indeed.

  • Foxyheart September 20, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Plus the other (file) pic shows a jet………why tell us about the propellers being bent?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic September 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Foxyheart, the photo of the jet that you are referring to was given to illustrate the runway; that said, I see that creates some confusion as to the plane involved in the reported incident and so am removing it from the report.

      Thank you for the feedback.

      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • Bender September 21, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Gear up landing with prop impact and engine running will require engine tear down for inspection. Gets spendy really fast. Expensive mistake. Bummer man.

  • Happy Day September 21, 2017 at 6:07 am

    I see a fire truck going toward the accident. Ok pic. I see the runway on the second pic. Ok pic. Or a cargo jet.

  • Caveat_Emptor September 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Let’s agree that the good news is: the impact of this pilot’s “human error” is focused on his plane alone.
    While we do not appear to have a photograph of the subject plane, assume the front wheel, under the engine bay, is retracted, so the plane skidded along the runway as it broke each segment of its propeller, on the front section of the fuselage, while the two wheels adjacent to the passenger compartment remained fixed in place.
    No question that the cost to repair, and re-certify this plane as flightworthy, will be very expensive.

  • Mike P. September 21, 2017 at 11:16 am

    God, I hope this “pilot” is not a local. That would mean he’s driving around also. He could possibly get “distracted” or “forget” to yield to oncoming traffic, etc, etc.

    • An actual Independent September 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      I fly locally. I have to say I see a lot more stupidity on the road than I do in the air or in the airport traffic pattern.

  • taylor September 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

    The photo above was taken after the plane had already been removed from the runway. The plane was taken to a hanger for further inspection. The fire truck in the photo was returning to the fire station. One of the workers at the airport told us that the plane was a Cessna 210 and had just passed it’s annual inspection. I happen to be in the airplane pictured. We had a great flight and I did remember to lower the landing gear. 🙂

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