A SkyWest Metroliner II carrying six airline officials swerved as it headed down a runway, careened onto a taxiway and struck a parked Cessna moments after the startled pilot ran from the smaller plane, officials say.
No one was injured in the incident Friday at 5 p.m. at the St. George Municipal Airport, said Ron Reber, vice president for marketing at SkyWest headquarters here.Dan Stewart, a student pilot and employee of Sun Time Aviation, which owns the single-engine Cessna 172, had just shut down his engine when he heard and saw the Metroliner, said Sun Time owner Jon Hunt.
"He could hear the (Metroliner's) engines in reverse as it tried to slow down," Hunt said Saturday. "He saw that thing coming toward him, and he jumped out and ran."
The $3.5 million Metroliner sustained an estimated $100,000 damage, Reber said. Hunt said the Cessna 172 single-engine plane was a total loss.
Reber said the 17-passenger Metroliner was about to leave on a nonscheduled trip from St. George to SkyWest's facility in Palm Springs, Calif., at the time.
He said the plane was traveling at about 80 knots but was not airborne when it left the runway, crossed an infield and rolled onto the taxiway. The plane had slowed to about 10 to 15 mph when its wingtip hit the front of a United Parcel Service van and spun into the Cessna.
The van was not occupied, he said.
An internal investigation was planned, but Reber speculated there may have been a malfunction in the nosewheel steering mechanism or a possible power failure on one side of the plane.
The incident was the second involving SkyWest aircraft in as many weeks. In late January, two Metroliners collided on a ramp at Salt Lake International Airport, Reber said. There were no injuries in that incident.