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Twin-engine plane makes emergency landing at airport when landing gear collapses
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Twin-engine plane makes emergency landing at airport when landing gear collapses

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A cargo airplane was forced into an emergency landing at Billings Logan International Airport after its landing gear malfunctioned Thursday.

The Beechcraft 99 owned by Alpine Air, a company that hauls mail and freight, took off from Billings a few hours earlier. The pilot was unable to retract the landing gear after takeoff. The plane would have immediately landed, but the landing gear wouldn’t fully lower either, said Kevin Ploehn, director of aviation and transit.

The pilot remained in the air for a few hours trying to fix the issue. When the problem could not be resolved in flight, the pilot declared an emergency and returned to Billings, Ploehn said.

The aircraft performed a flyby before landing so airport personnel could determine if the landing gear was deployed. Often fuses and indicator lights fail so pilots cannot determine if they’re prepared to land. In this case observers found the front landing gear was only partially deployed and would likely collapse upon landing.

Aircraft rescue firefighters staged at the end of the runway in preparation for the emergency landing. As the airplane made its final approach, the pilot killed the engines and the Alpine Air Beechcraft touched down at about 11:45 a.m. The front and right rear landing gear failed, causing the right wing to drag on the tarmac.

Ploehn said the pilot did an outstanding job landing the airplane under difficult circumstances. He was the only occupant of the aircraft and was not injured. Emergency crews were still working about an hour later to clear the runway.

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General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.

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