Moncton Flight College grounds planes after mechanical failure

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."

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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.

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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.

Submitted/Wendy Astle

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.