Thursday, February 19, 2004

A twin-engine Piper PA-31 Navajo crashed shortly before 2 p.m. yesterday, 200 yards shy of the runway at Kahului Airport. The pilot, Alan Walls, had reported the fuel pump on his right engine failed 500 miles northeast of Oahu, and he had been advised to land at Kahului. He received minor injuries.

Plane crashes
near Maui airport

The pilot suffers minor injuries
while making an emergency
landing short of the runway

Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating what caused a pilot to make an emergency landing short of the runway at Kahului Airport yesterday afternoon.

The pilot, the only person on board, received minor injuries.

The twin-engine airplane, based in Canada, was loaded with 2,300 pounds of aviation fuel when it cartwheeled after one of the wings hit the ground during the landing, according to Maui Fire Department officials. The plane came to a stop in a grassy area near the airport's main runway. Rescue crews pulled the pilot from the plane.

"We rolled the fuselage back," said acting Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Shaffer. "I talked to him a little bit. He seemed stable."

Coast Guard officials in Honolulu said they were notified by the FAA at 11:27 a.m. that the right engine of a Piper PA-31 Navajo failed about 500 miles northeast of Oahu. The Coast Guard sent a C-130 aircraft and an HH-65 helicopter to escort the plane to the closest airport, Kahului.

"They rendezvoused with the aircraft and escorted him back to land," said Coast Guard Lt. Justin Kimura. "They made it to Kahului, but then the plane crashed 200 yards short of the runway."

Shaffer said that according to the pilot, he was 3 1/2 hours into his flight to the mainland when the fuel pump to his right engine failed, and he was advised to land at Kahului.

The pilot said the pump began working again as he made his way to Maui but stopped functioning as he approached the airport, Shaffer said.

While emergency crews were on scene, the Department of Transportation closed the airport's main 7,000-foot runway from shortly before 2 to 4:05 p.m. During that time no overseas flights were allowed in or out of Maui.

"We had to use that runway for the emergency landing," said transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa. "There were two mainland flights that were supposed to go to Maui and were diverted to Honolulu Airport."

The pilot was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center. He told hospital officials he did not want to be interviewed by reporters.

The pilot was identified by the owner of the plane as Alan Walls, a "ferry" pilot who works for a company based in the United Kingdom. The plane is owned by Quickway Air Services, of Alberta, Canada. Officials there said Walls was hired to return the company's plane to Alberta from Australia, where it was used for an aerial surveying job.

"They're a very good ferrying company, from what I've heard," said Quickway Chief Executive Pat Stinnissen. "I've never used them before. ... This is the first time we've gone across the ocean for work; usually we stay in Canada."

Stinnissen said Walls flew into Oahu about a month ago and since then has been waiting for clear skies to take off for Oakland, Calif. From there he would have headed to Canada.

As of yesterday evening, Stinnissen said he also has been unable to contact Walls.

"I tried calling his cell phone, and he's not answering," Stinnissen said. "I've been in business since 1973, and this is the first crash we've ever had."

Star-Bulletin reporter Gary T. Kubota contributed to this report.


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