CARSON CITY — The Department of Transportation has been forced to ground one of its three state planes because of a freak accident in Ely.
Robert Chisel, assistant director of administration, said Monday one of the plane’s two propellers was damaged when it was struck by a truck while the aircraft was parked at an airport in Ely.
He said the driver had left the truck without properly setting its brakes and it rolled into the unmanned plane, a Rockwell Turbo Aero Commander built in 1983. The plane was properly tied down at the parking space to which it had been assigned, he added.
“The wind blew up and the truck hit the propeller,” Chisel said. “We are grounding it while repairs at made.”
Chisel said they are concerned that the engine also may have been damaged in the mishap. The Commander is valued at about $750,000.
He added the private company that operates the Ely Jet Center has insurance that will cover all costs of repairs to the plane. Repairs are expected to take several weeks.
The Department of Transportation operates the Commander and a Cessna Citation, a jet. It also owns a Cessna 210 that is used by the Nevada Highway Patrol to catch speeders.
“It is not really a problem,” said Chisel about being without the aircraft. “We are really trying to reduce travel and fuel consumption.”
NDOT uses the planes to fly staff members to projects around the state. The Citation also is used by state executives, including the governor.