Don’t Land With Your Gear Up
If you’ve flown a retractable, you’ve had it drummed into you: put the undercarriage down, check you put the undercarriage down and then check it once on short final.
I came close, once. I was doing a circuit to land at North Weald. I wanted to get around quickly and took a decision not to lower the gear just yet. The warning tone sounded, of course, but I’d done it intentionally, so I ignored it. On finals to land, I did my final check: red, blue, three greens. That’s the prompt to look at the fuel flow (fully rich) and the propeller (fully fine) and the landing gears (all three extended).
Needless to say, I saw nothing where my three green lights should have been and immediately went around. I felt sick to my stomach realising how close I’d come – all it would have taken was one further distraction and I could have written off the plane.
You may think it will never happen to you but then again, none of the pilots in the following clips thought it would happen to them!
Favourite statement on the video: “I said we were going too fast!”
We did not know, what will happen in the next 4 minutes. I was filming the approach for my personal video files, than it happens. The crash. Right after the crash, we don’t knew what was happening. We all survived. This video shows the approach to the altiport megève. Both, the pilot and the mountain rate teacher have several thousands of flight hours and a huge experience, but it happens, that the gear was forgotten. On the video you can hear the warning signal of the plane, that indicates, that the gear was not pulled out. No one was harmed by the crash.
After the crash, we tried to move the plane, but we had to get a tractor to pull the crashed plane from the runway. You can see this in the further video.
So I can give you the following advice: Check your gear twice or use a plane with a fixed gear.
I particularly like this comment by 1editor1 defending the pilots:
The gear up landing can happen to anyone who flies a retract. External pressure and life distractions will bite you at sometime, whether it‘s running a stop sign, leaving the iron on or car unlocked. The perfect storm for a gear up. You’ve booked that getaway with your buddies in the TB20 that you haven’t flown for 5 weeks. This has been a ball buster. Your wife has just served the divorce papers, the bank won’t refinance your home and your daughter is pregnant by your best friend. FOCUS!
Of course, the other risk is that you raise the landing gear before the plane has left the ground, as in this poor Russian MIG:
A safety “squat switch” prevents the gear from raising when the weight of the plane is on it. The safety is there in case of inadvertent selection of GEAR UP while on the ramp or taxi. Once the weight of the aircraft is removed, the gear will operate as selected.
This pilot simply took off with the gear lever in the up position, as soon as the weight was removed, the gear raised as designed.
Landing a big plane with its gear up is a particular challenge (although I think quite a bit less likely to happen as a result of a missed checklist!).
Here’s a Boeing 727 doing it right:
The flight IR-742 from Moscow, Sheremetyevo was on approach to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport around when the crew did not receive a down and locked indication for the nose gear and aborted the approach. Following unsuccessful troubleshooting the crew decided to divert to Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport where a low approach confirmed the nose gear was not extended. The crew subsequently performed a landing without the nose gear and came to a stand still on both main gear and the nose of the aircraft. The aircraft was evacuated, no injuries occurred.
And here’s a hang glider… sadly not quite doing it right:
100% pilot error. A $200.00 Landing. I should have landed at the lower lz.
And finally, the most beautiful gear-up landing I’ve ever seen was this King Air landing at Atlanta, Georgia, as shown on CNN:
I have to admit: that’s a smoother landing than I manage with the gear down!
Hey, that last one was at my home airport! (KFTY)
I wonder why he chose runway 32 instead of the much longer 8/26
Let’s not forget about Boeing 767 at EPWA :)
Brent: Good question! I had a brief look but didn’t find details of the incident. It would be interesting to see if there’s a write-up anywhere with the details.
Wiktor: Oh, that IS interesting. I think you just handed me my next blog post topic. :D