NWAL pilots safe after landing gear collapses in training flight

Northwestern Air says two pilots are safe and unharmed after the landing gear of their Jetstream aircraft collapsed at Fort Smith’s airfield on Friday.

Jim Heidema – chief operating officer of Northwestern, also known as NWAL – said the incident happened at the end of a training flight in which the captain and first officer were the only two on board.

When the turboprop aircraft came in to land at 12:30pm, all indications within the cockpit suggested the landing gear had deployed as expected with no issues, Heidema said. But on touchdown, the left gear collapsed.


“The aircraft ran out of the runway and landed in the grass,” Heidema told Cabin Radio on Saturday.

He said the airline was “very fortunate” that the chief pilot had more than 10,000 hours’ experience in Jetstream aircraft. The first officer was a commercial pilot taking part in a training flight as they transition into the aircraft, Heidema said, adding that everything appeared to have been done correctly both before and after the gear collapse.

“Obviously, they were shaken up. We sent them both to the hospital for a check-up, which they cleared with no issues,” he said.

The aircraft, however, may be a write-off.

Heidema said the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has interviewed both pilots and is sending an inspector to assess the aircraft and what, structurally, went wrong.


He said the damaged aircraft won’t have an operational impact “but will affect our pocketbook, for sure,” as the airline’s insurance won’t fully cover the financial consequences of such an accident.

Once the TSB’s assessment of the aircraft concludes, Heidema said its airworthiness will be carefully examined by NWAL staff before any decision is taken regarding its future.