With Emergency Responders in Place, Great Lakes Plane Skids to a Halt on TEX Runway
TELLURIDE – A small passenger aircraft carrying two crewmembers and ten passengers came to a screeching halt on the Telluride Regional Airport (TeX) runway Sunday, Sept. 1, at approximately 1 p.m. No injuries were reported.
“All in all, everything turned out just fine on Sunday,” said Airport Manager Richard Nuttall. “I’m real happy with my crew; we were able to allow the aircraft to land and were able to safely get it off the runway without incident.”
The aircraft, a Great Lakes Airlines twin propeller, was en route to Telluride from Denver when the pilot noticed a warning light indicating the left landing gear was malfunctioning, according to a statement issued by the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office. The plane circled the airport until the pilot determined the plane would have to land on runway at the highest-altitude commercial airport in North America.
Police, fire crews and Emergency Medical Service personnel were called to the airport, and readied to respond before the plane began its emergency landing procedure. After the pilot notified the control tower he was descending, he safely brought the plane to a stop. As the plane skidded across the runway, its left landing gear collapsed.
There was no reported fire or smoke, according to the SMSO report; the aircraft suffered damage to its left engine propeller and left wing during the emergency landing. Once passengers exited the damaged craft, deputies gave them a ride to the terminal building, where they retrieved their luggage and left the airport.
The runway reopened that evening, at 8:30 p.m., after airport staff moved the damaged aircraft to a hangar where it will be repaired prior to leaving Telluride. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident.
Nuttall, who has worked at TEX for more than two decades, has encountered only a few mechanical failures similar to Sunday’s. “Over the years, we’ve had smaller airplanes that have come in and had problems with their landing gear,” he said, “but never on a commercial aircraft like this.”
Nuttall pronounced himself happy with TEX’s safety record, but added, “I haven’t found that TEX is any worse, or better than any other airport,” Nuttall added. “It’s not the airport; it’s usually something mechanical or pilot error-related.
“This is the first accident Great Lakes has had with us since they’ve been flying into TEX,” he said. “That’s a good record.”