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UND Planes Forced To Land

Greater scrutiny of airport activity has come about after the terrorist acts on the East Coast. Locally, the Grand Forks International Airport has had less dramatic events.

However, there have been a number of incidents recently involving UND Aerospace training flights. During the month of September, there were three emergency landings by UND planes.

Two of the three landings in question were due to mechanical faults. On Sept. 1 a plane's nose-gear landing apparatus did not lock into position and had to be brought down without it. Instructor Samuel Danielson took control of the craft and landed it with minimal damage and no injuries.

That can also be said of the incident on Saturday, Sept. 22. It was the same Piper Arrow aircraft that had landing gear problems during the previous incident, and had an oil line come loose causing the plane to lose pressure, inevitably seizing the engine on the climb-out. Instructor Mark Dusenbury took the plane down onto County Road 11, two miles northwest of the airfield, again without serious injury or damage.

The two men will receive Certificates of Airmanship, said Director of Flight Operations Al Palmer, for "demonstrating exceptional judgment and exemplary piloting skills while coping with an in-flight emergency." The awards will be given at 7 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 at Clifford Hall, room 210.

The only landing officially considered an accident by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took place on the Sept. 5. The plane, a Piper Warrior, landed off the runway during a dual flight and had to be towed back to the strip.

The FAA is still investigating the cause of the crash landing, though it may have been a combination of variable crosswinds, gustwinds, and pilot error. Palmer said it was generally a problem "maintaining directional control during a landing practice."

According to Palmer and Director of Safety Dana Seaworth, such frequent occurrences are extremely rare. In the general aviation industry there are six accidents for every 100,000 flight hours., while in the U.S. this number is down to four. UND held out at zero in 1998 and 1999, and had only 2 in the year 2000.

"UND has one of the safest operations in the U.S." Seaworthy said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: (To see just how poorly UND's safety record stacks up to other collegiate programs return to the College of Aerospace index of visit the National Transportation Safety Board's web site or the Federal Aviation Administration's Incident Data System).

Source: The Dakota Student,  September 27, 2001