New Brunswick

Moncton Flight College grounds planes after mechanical failure

The Moncton Flight College is temporarily grounding part of it's fleet after a landing gear failure at the Bathurst Airport last Thursday.

College grounds Seminole Piper aircraft after the landing gear failed during Bathurst landing

One of Moncton Flight College's Piper Seminole aircraft parked on the tarmac at the Bathurst Airport on Jan. 9. (Radio-Canada)

The Moncton Flight College is temporarily grounding part of its fleet after a landing gear failure at the Bathurst Airport last Thursday.

Piloting a Piper Seminole, a Moncton Flight College student attempted a touch-and-go, a manoeuvre that involves taking off immediately after landing, when the landing gear malfunctioned.

An internal memo, sent to students and staff, said the school will "temporarily ground the Seminole fleet and consult with Piper Aircraft."

Billy MacLeod, Moncton flight college pilot-in-training, said he's confident flying any plane the school makes available. "Whenever we have doubts about a plane, we go to an instructor and they take care of our concerns immediately," he said. (Radio-Canada)

The note goes on to state that the plane's manufacturer, Piper Aircraft, will send "inspection instructions, which we will carry out before returning the Seminoles to service."

According to the college's website, the school has eight Piper Seminole aircraft in its fleet.

Not a concern to me

Billy MacLeod, pilot-in-training at the college said he has total confidence in the safety measures at the school.

"The maintenance department here is excellent, any time we have concerns with the airplanes we just go see them or speak to an instructor and they're usually right on that," he said.

A Moncton Flight College Diamond DA20-C1 Eclipse aircraft made an emergency landing in the early hours of the night on Route 8 near Blackville on Dec. 22, 2019. It was flown by a student. The two people on board were not injured. (Submitted/Wendy Astle)

According to MacLeod, the college keeps the students up-to-date on any issues with the airplanes.

"Of course, these planes get a lot of hours put on it and so there is bound to be some issues there."

Two recent emergency landings

And there have been.

Since the fall there have been two emergency landings performed on provincial highways by Moncton Flight College airplanes, neither were Seminoles.

The most recent emergency landing happened in the early morning hours on Route 8, near Blackville in December. The other took place on Sept. 30 just after noon on Highway 16 near the Confederation Bridge.

No one was injured in either of those emergency landings.

A Moncton Flight College aircraft also made an emergency landing in September of last year on HWY 16 near the Confederation Bridge. (Submitted by Rod Wood)

Both incidents involved a Diamond DA20-C1 Eclipse aircraft, the most numerous model in the Moncton Flight College fleet. The flight school has 41 in a fleet of 55 aircraft, according to its website.

Transport Canada said Tuesday evening it's continuing to monitor the situation but has taken no action as of yet.

"Transport Canada does not have a concern about the Piper Seminole operated by the Moncton Flight College at this time and will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the continued airworthiness of these aircraft," a spokesperson said in an email.

No one at the Moncton Flight College, the Northeast District RCMP or the Bathurst Regional Airport would comment.

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