A flight school that, under previous ownership, trained suspected Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist Hani Hanjour, is facing scrutiny involving a series of mishaps with its aircraft.
Scottsdale Airport director Scott Gray said the city has requested that the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration look into three crashes over the past year involving Arizona Flight Works aircraft.
"They have had several incidents over the last year, so we asked the FAA to look into their training practices," Gray said. "Most incidents have to do with pilot error. None of the accidents were ever determined to be a fault of the airport or that it was a poor facility."
The latest crash was Feb. 20, when Jerry Stockstill, 38, a student pilot with Arizona Flight Works, was flying solo and his Cessna 172 veered off a runway during a touch-and-go maneuver.
The plane crossed a taxiway and slammed into a hangar, damaging the plane’s front end. Stockstill was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix with serious injuries, including multiple leg fractures.
This was the sixth crash the NTSB has investigated in the past year involving the Scottsdale Airport. Three of the incidents involved Arizona Flight Works.
Robert Lang, general manager of Arizona Flight Works, said the flight school had been contacted by the FAA.
"Our intentions are to fully cooperate with the NTSB and the FAA," Lang said. "We want to participate with any inquiries they have with our safety."
Runo Nelson, an investigator with the Scottsdale Flights Standards District Office, a branch of the FAA, confirmed he was heading up an investigation into practices and procedures by Arizona Flight Works.
"We have a watchful eye out for trends," Nelson said. "So far nothing has jumped out at us."
Hanjour, one of 19 suspected terrorists involved with the Sept. 11 attacks, trained at CRM Flyers for three months in 1996. CRM sold its assets to Arizona Flight Works in May 2001.
On Nov. 11, an Arizona Flight Works plane hit a runway sign while landing. Although no one was hurt, the plane sustained substantial damage. No flight plan was filed before landing at Scottsdale Airport, according to NTSB records.
A student pilot of Arizona Flight Works lost control during a landing May 21, hitting a runway sign. The pilot was not hurt. The plane, however, was severely damaged.
The student pilot was practicing touch-and-go landings during his third solo flight. On the last landing, the airplane veered left off the runway and hit a runway distance sign.
Again, no flight plan had been filed, according to NTSB records.
"I am really concerned there have been a couple accidents that were from the same training center at the airport," Scottsdale City Councilman Wayne Ecton said. "They need to go further than just investigating accidents. We need them to look at our airport operation practices and procedures."
A Utah couple died Jan. 26 when their plane crashed into the McDowell Mountains during a takeoff at night. On Dec. 8, a Piper PA landed upside down after crashing into a shopping center resulting from power failure after takeoff. The pilot and passenger suffered minor injuries.
"Whenever a plane stalls, I wonder if this is the one," said Nick Luongo, a Scottsdale resident who lives in Ironwood Village near Scottsdale Airport. "It's only a matter of time before one of the planes crashes into Ironwood Village."