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UND cancels flight training after landing mishap

GRAND FORKS -- UND's aerospace school suspended training flights Thursday after a student pilot landed at Grand Forks International Airport with the landing gear up, the university said.

The student pilot and instructor in the twin-engine Seminole were not hurt.

It's the latest of several mishaps involving UND aircraft.

Earlier in the week, a student pilot landed and went off the runway, and another landed hard and blew a tire, airport operations manager Rick Audette said. There were no injuries or damage, except the tire, which he said was not an uncommon damage.

Since July, there have been four other incidents including several hard landings and one instance of a student leaving the runway during takeoff, said UND flight operations director Al Palmer.

All were solo flights by student pilots.

"The only thing that is consistent is that they happened either in the takeoff or landing phase," Palmer said.

Thursday's landing problem came while Federal Aviation Administration officials were conducting an annual inspection of the flight school, Palmer said.

The incident appears to be pilot error, he said. A student pilot and an instructor were aboard the aircraft.

The twin-engine Piper Seminole airplane, owned by the school and valued at about $500,000, suffered "bent props and a scratched belly," Palmer said.

Training flights are slated to resume this afternoon, Palmer said.

UND flight school officials and instructors met Thursday afternoon to review flight and safety procedures with the FAA.

"We're going to talk about things and make sure we are not complacent and make sure we're following attention to detail," Palmer said. "The most important thing is that we can buy more airplanes but we can't buy more students."

The aerospace school said it has more than 2,000 students from around the world and more than 500 faculty and staff members. It also owns about 120 aircraft.

Palmer said students log about 100,000 flight training hours annually.