Medevac flight makes emergency 'belly landing' at northern Alberta airport

·2 min read

Four people aboard a medevac plane forced to execute a "belly landing" at the High Level Airport on Wednesday night were unharmed during the rough landing.

"It was probably the best outcome possible for this kind of event," airport manager Luke Colatorti said in a statement Thursday. "Nobody was hurt, no fuel was spilled, and no fire occurred."

Pilots execute belly landings — also known as gear-up landings — when landing gear doesn't fully extend due to mechanical malfunction. The technique requires the pilot to use extreme precision. Belly landings can result in severe damage to the aircraft.

Four passengers — two pilots and two medical staff — were on board the Canwest Air Beechcraft B200 as it took off from Grande Prairie, bound for the Edmonton International Airport.

Mechanical issues with the plane were reported to crews at High Level Airport shortly after 5 p.m.

The right-side main landing gear would not extend.

Nearly an hour passed before the plane made its belly landing.

"The plane made several low passes over the airport to allow ground crews an opportunity to identify the issue," the Town of High Level said in the statement.

"When that was unsuccessful, the decision was made to land the plane with all gears up."

Town of High Level/Facebook
Town of High Level/Facebook

Colatorti said constant communication between the pilot, tower and emergency crews was a key part of the landing.

"As the pilot was communicating with the NAV Canada Tower, we were communicating with emergency crews," he said. "And once everyone was ready, the decision was made to do a final approach.

"They came in and did their belly landing, and emergency crews were ready."

High Level fire Chief Rodney Schmidt praised the work of the pilots.

"They did a really good job in terms of giving everyone some advanced warning," Schmidt said in the statement.

"Everybody was OK and there was no fire risk. The pilot did an amazing job putting the plane on the runway, and as a result it was a very straightforward incident."

High Level is 740 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.