Investigation continues in plane accident |

Investigation continues in plane accident

Alexis DeLaCruz

— Pilot Les Liman, who was involved in an incident Nov. 29 at Steamboat Springs Airport, is giving up on his beloved Piper Meridian.

“This is the third accident this plane has had with me in it in 23 months,” he said. “It seems to like to steer off

the runway.”

Liman’s most recent accident occurred during a routine take-off from the Steamboat Springs Airport when the plane slid off the left side of the runway.

Liman was not injured in the accident.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and two representatives with Piper aircrafts met with Liman last week to discuss the accident.

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Though the incident is still under investigation, it appears manufacturer’s problems with the plane may be to blame for the accidents.

Aaron Sauer, an investigator with the NTSB in Denver, said it may be another month before a cause of the accident is determined. “At this point we don’t have anything that says the accident was caused by (Liman),” Sauer said Tuesday.

Because Liman’s plane veered off the runway onto its nose, Sauer was not able to examine the plane’s nose gear, which may have caused the accident.

Sauer said Liman’s particular model of Piper Meridian has had problems with nose gear several years ago that the manufacturer warned pilots about.

“There have been some other runway excursion events with this type of aircraft,” Sauer said.

Liman said Sauer’s preliminary findings are consistent with what happened two weeks ago.

“What happened was an uncommanded turn,” he said. “I couldn’t have done what it did from inside the cockpit.”

Liman said the nose gear, began skidding, made a hard left and then “took the rest of the plane off the runway.”

Liman’s first accident occurred in Canon City. Liman said he accepted fault for that accident. During the second accident in January 2006, Liman’s plane had just landed when it veered off the runway. Liman was not found to be at fault in that accident.

“I definitely got more suspicious after I had a second

accident in that plane,” he said.

Regardless, Liman said his days of flying the plane is over.

“I’m not going to be flying that plane anymore,” he said. “I think the community should feel good about that.”

– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

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