A plane with two people on board was forced to make an emergency landing on its nose, sending sparks flying at Adelaide’s Parafield Airport, after the pilot noticed a problem with its front wheel.

Key points:

  • The pilot of the twin-engine Beechcraft noticed a fault with the nosewheel
  • The plane circled the area at low altitude as emergency services gathered at the scene
  • The aircraft came to a halt on its nose, with the pilot and passenger avoiding injury

Emergency services were alerted to the situation just after midnight, when the pilot of the twin-engine Beechcraft B55 reported the nosewheel of the aircraft had a fault and was not sure it was locked down to land.

The plane was forced to repeatedly circle the area in Adelaide’s north at low altitude, with authorities at the airport confirming the problem with the nosewheel.

The aircraft then landed on its two rear wheels, with its nose hitting the tarmac and causing sparks to fly, just before 1:30am.

Neither the pilot nor the passenger was injured.

The Beechcraft plane will be examined for mechanical problems and a report will be prepared for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Flight records show it left Waikerie Airport at 11:30pm.

The plane on its nose after the emergency landing.(Supplied: Braeden Gatt)

Hartwig Air CEO David Blake told the ABC an instructor and a student pilot were conducting a training flight when they noticed the problem as they prepared for landing.

“They experienced … a problem lowering the undercarriage,” he said.

“When it lowered there was an unsafe warning light on the nose gear.”

The pilot then contacted air traffic control and kept circling.

“He even had time to call the chief pilot to talk to him about the situation to see if there was anything else he could try,” Mr Blake said.

“They had plenty of fuel on board so they were able to take their time and make a good decision.

“Once the emergency services were in place he did a landing at the slowest possible speed.”

Pilot praised for ‘exceptional job’

Police, firefighters, paramedics and airport safety officers earlier gathered at the scene to prepare for the emergency landing.

“We thank the emergency services for their attendance, and are grateful of the professional and appropriate actions taken by our pilot,” Mr Blake said.

The Beechcraft Baron circled Parafield airport before landing with a nose gear malfunction.(Supplied)

Residents in Adelaide’s north reported hearing the plane flying low overhead in the early hours of Wednesday morning — including aviation expert Doug Drury, who teaches at the University of South Australia.

Dr Drury, who has 38 years’ experience as a pilot, said it was a heroic effort to pull off an emergency landing in the dark.

“When these things happen, it will come as second nature to us and doing it at night, after midnight, adds a whole new layer.”

Dr Drury praised the way the pilot responded.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

Dr Drury said the pilot had done an “exceptional job” to accomplish a textbook nose landing.

“The pilot came in and landed on the two main wheels and then gently brought down the nose,” he said.

“It’s a very challenging manoeuvre in day time so having to do it at night makes it that much more difficult.”

Parafield Airport is a major pilot training hub and was Australia’s busiest airport in 2020 after traffic fell at Sydney Airport during the coronavirus pandemic.