News Plane incidents — 23 April 2017

A MARIANAS Air Transfer Piper Cherokee N4437X made an emergency landing at Laolao Bay Golf & Resort in Kagman on Saturday at past 1 p.m. The pilot and two female Chinese tourists were unhurt.

The incident occurred just after the conclusion of the Hyatt Regency Saipan 21st Annual Charity Golf Classic which was held at the golf resort. The four-passenger plane landed on the fairway of Hole No. 5, and stopped near the bushes next to the blue tee box, a spot for professional golfers.

Dong Young “Edward” Lee, one of the tournament participants, said he had just finished his game when the incident happened. “That was my last hole,” he added. “I was eating [lunch] already when I heard there was a plane that crashed there,” he said in an interview.

The 25-year-old pilot, Josh Emmanuel Dominise, remained at the scene to talk to first responders while his two passengers were transported to the Commonwealth Health Center even though they were not injured, Variety learned.

Dominise told the first responders that he took off from the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport at 1:06 p.m., but six minutes into the flight, he heard an explosion in the engine so he cut off the plane’s electricity and reported it to the control tower which advised him to return to the airport right away. He said he didn’t think he could make it to the airport so decided to land in Kagman, adding that he believed that the golf course was the safest spot for a landing.

Variety was told that the flight was part of an “Island Discover Tour,” a 22-minute sight-seeing flight on Saipan.

At 11:57 a.m., Sunday, Star Marianas Air Inc. president Shaun R. Christian issued the following press release:

“Sight-seeing Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing at Laolao Bay Golf Course

“At approximately 1:11 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, a 4-seat Piper PA28-140 Cherokee Cruiser declared an emergency and landed at Laolao Bay Golf Course. The plane which is owned by Marianas Air Transfer Inc. was flying an island sight-seeing flight and was being piloted by Captain Josh Dominise who is employed by Star Marianas Air.

“The aircraft, which is not used by Star Marianas Air for airline operations, was north of the Laolao Golf Course with two passengers on board when the pilot heard the engine make a loud noise followed by a loss of power. Captain Dominise declared an emergency with the Saipan Air Traffic Control Tower and informed the controller that he would be making an emergency landing at the golf course.

“There were no injuries as a result of the landing and an inspection conducted in coordination with the National Transportation Safety Board revealed no substantial damage to the aircraft’s structure. An initial inspection of the engine did reveal a significant crack on the engine’s block which is consistent with the pilot’s reported experience. Since the engine was purchased new from the manufacturer seven months ago, and had more than 70 percent of its useful life remaining, the NTSB has offered to assist in determining what may have caused what is preliminarily being considered a critical manufactures defect.

“Late Saturday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board released the aircraft to Marianas Air Transfer, the aircraft’s owner. Star Marianas Air is assisting in getting the airplane transported to Tinian where its maintenance department will work with the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the engine manufacturer, to determine what needs to be done to ensure other engines of this type do not encounter a similar defect.

“A representative of the National Transportation Safety Board’s incident response team commended Captain Dominse for his quick decision making and his successfully executed emergency landing.”

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