A medical flight from Bethel made a rough landing in Anchorage early Wednesday when the plane's main landing gear collapsed, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
A patient, a family member and a three-person crew were onboard the LifeMed Alaska plane. No one was hurt, said Clint Johnson, chief of the NTSB Alaska region.
The safety board is investigating, he said.
The incident shut down a runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for an hour and a half Wednesday morning while NTSB and airport officials documented what happened, according to LifeMed and the airport.
Around 6:30 a.m., the Beechcraft King Air twin-engine turboprop was approaching the international airport.
The plane has a trio of wheels for landing – a nose wheel and two mains. When the gear comes down, the instrument panel should light up with three green signals.
Instead, the panel may have shown unsafe left-side gear, Johnson said. The problem could have been a faulty warning indicator, said Steve Gonzalez, whose public relations firm represents LifeMed.
On his initial approach, the pilot tried to touch down lightly and noticed that the plane was settling unusually low on the left, Gonzalez said.
"Understanding that a possible locking mechanism failure had occurred, the pilot aborted the landing, notified the control tower and then completed several fly-bys to allow for visual inspection," LifeMed said in a statement.
The landing gear appeared to be extended, the pilot was told.
"Obviously, it wasn't," Johnson said. At least, it wasn't locked.
Emergency crews assembled. The plane landed, and as it slowed, the left main gear collapsed, Johnson said. The left wing touched the tarmac, LifeMed said.
"They had gotten down to a manageable speed," Johnson said.
An investigator interviewed the pilot Wednesday to find out more.
The runway was closed until NTSB gave approval to move the plane, according to airport operations manager Trudy Wassel.
LifeMed, an air ambulance service that operates throughout Alaska, relies on a fleet of Learjets and King Air turboprops that it says are owned, maintained and flown by another firm, Aero Air out of Hillsboro, Oregon.
The LifeMed limited liability company is owned jointly by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. and Providence Health System, according to state records.