A University of North Dakota (UND) Cessna Citation II icing research aircraft made a successful deadstick landing near Beaver, Alaska, about 70 miles north of Fairbanks, after both engines lost power on September 30. In IMC at 9,200 feet, the Citation accumulated about seven-eighths of an inch of ice on the wing’s leading edge. Paul Le Hardy, chief research pilot for UND’s atmospheric science department, cycled the de-icing boots and several minutes later heard a loud “bang” at the rear of the jet. Both engines lost power.
Unable to restart the engines, he initiated an emergency descent. Breaking out of the clouds at 6,000 feet, he spotted a fairly clear, burned area and set the jet down with the landing gear retracted. The four crewmembers, including a researcher from Sikorsky, received only minor injuries, but there was structural damage to the aircraft’s wings, fuselage and empennage. The Citation and its instrumentation were recovered from the accident site. (Associated Press reports to the contrary were inaccurate.) The flight was working on the final stages of certifying the Sikorsky S-92 for flight in known icing conditions. Interestingly, a few days after that flight, Sikorsky announced that the S-92 had received icing certification.
Dr. Bruce Smith, the dean of UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, said, “Given the weather conditions and the formidable terrain in Alaska, the safe landing of the aircraft without injury to the crew was a remarkable display of airmanship on the part of the pilot.” The NTSB is investigating the incident.