Arkansas State Plane Malfunctions with Governor on Board

The Arkansas State Police plane that the governor uses is grounded for repairs after landing gear lights failed to work on a recent flight while Gov. Mike Beebe was a passenger.

Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said Tuesday that Beebe is considering whether to use the 1982 Beechcraft King Air again.

A state police spokesman said the governor should have use of a new $4 million plane soon.

The plane flew Beebe to a banquet in Fort Smith on Saturday for the 100th anniversary of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 29.

On the return flight to Little Rock, when the pilot engaged the landing gear, lights that are supposed to come on didn't.

"They checked with the tower and with another aircraft who both were able to visibly confirm that the landing gear was down but there was no way to confirm it was locked," DeCample said. "So they retracted the gear and they tried it again while circling and this time they got the lights." Emergency trucks were dispatched as a precaution but the plane landed at Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field, without a problem, he said, adding that the problem was found to be in the lights, not the landing gear.

"But it obviously did cause a few anxious moments on the plane," he said.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said the plane "is in the shop at Central Flying Service." He said the lights should be fixed in a few days.

"We're staying in contact with the state police but we're also looking at other potential options between now and when we are able to acquire the new plane," DeCample said.

Beebe signed the appropriation bill into law Tuesday that enables the state police to spend $4 million to buy a new plane.

Sadler said the state police should be able to have the new plane in Arkansas in a few weeks.

State police are eyeing a demonstration 2007 model Beechcraft King Air 200 turboprop twin-engine, which is the same type of plane the governor uses now.

Sadler said state police will still fix the broken plane because it has to be in flying order as part of a trade-in deal for the new plane.

This article was published 04/04/2007

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