Correction: In the printed edition of The Local, the aircraft was misidentified. It was a Cessna, not a De Havilland.
When an emergency was declared at Niagara District Airport Saturday evening, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire Department and Emergency Services rushed to the scene to wait for the aircraft’s arrival.
Airport crews also prepared for an emergency landing.
Fortunately, says airport CEO Dan Pilon, the pilot was able to land safely, with some damage to the plane, but no injuries.
Firefighters responded to the request to stand by, but were not needed. The plane landed “without incident,” says Fire Chief Nick Ruller.
The aircraft was a six-passenger amphibious Cessna heading home from Port Huron, Michigan.
The pilot identified mid-air that one of its front wheels was not available for landing, and as it had broken off, says Pilon, and is set into the front float, it would have caused some damage to that portion of the plane.
Landing on the ground was likely a safer alternative than a landing on water, he says.
“The pilot did a masterful job of landing safely” with three out of four wheels intact.
“There were no significant issues, no reason for anyone to be engaged,” he says.
While landing in that situation isn’t the best way to test emergency preparedness, it was a good exercise to ensure the emergency response at the airport, he says.
“It was the best case scenario for all concerned.”
The aircraft, a single prop, is the type of aircraft that might be used for a trip to a cottage or a small group on a fishing trip, and is based at the Niagara District Airport, says Pilon.
In 2019, the airport saw 45,000 movements, and although that number dipped as a result of the pandemic, it’s been “slowly creeping up again.” With that many takeoffs and landings, “you know situations like that can occur. It’s good to know all emergency plans came together.”
And good to know that the pilot was able land safely and avert significant issues, he added.