A plane crash caused by mishandling of landing gear can be described as similar to jumping from a height and not landing on your feet properly.
During my commercial pilot training, I remember the phase when I had to transition from a Cessna 172 N to Cessna 172RG.
Till this part of my pilot training I didn’t had to worry about retracting the landing gear once the positive rate of climb is achieved. Getting the opportunity to fly an aircraft with retractable landing gear and variable pitch propeller was filled with lot of excitement and little bit of concern.
I had one more item in the checklist, and that too very important one, of retracting and lowering the landing gear during different phase of flying.
Forgetting to take care of this item could result in serious consequences. There had been stories abound of training pilots forgetting to lower the landing gear as they prepared to land. I certainly didn’t want to be one of them.
A recent plane crash refreshed the concern I had during my pilot training period.
The pilot was flying a twin engine Piper PA 31-350 equipped with retractable landing gear in Homer, Alaska at an uncontrolled airport.
A moose was reported in the vicinity of the runway by the airplane that landed in front of him as the pilot was on final approach.
An airport maintenance person made an announcement on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) that they are trying to chase the moose away from the runway.
All this was enough distraction for the pilot coming in to land. Faced with three tasks, keep a check on the location of the vehicle, keep away from wake turbulence from the preceding aircraft and look for the moose, the pilot forgot the lower the landing gear before landing.
The aircraft touchdown on its belly and slid on the runway for nearly 1,200 feet. The end result for landing without landing gear was a substantial damage to the fuselage.
The pilot stated that there was no mechanical problem with the aircraft before the plane crash that would have prevented normal operation.
Probable cause of plane crash: It can be accepted that there was enough of distraction while landing. But, most likely the pilot forgot to go through the checklist properly, or else the landing gear would have been extended in time.
NTSB Identification: ANC15CA027
This plan crash report was published on the website of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). This article has been written for educational purpose only and to make fellow aviators aware of what all can happen in flying.
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