An aircraft sustained damage when attempting to land at Exeter Airport while its landing gear was still elevated, and part of it collided with the runway before its pilots managed to avoid a disaster.
The flight in March of this year, which is part of pilot training usually conducted in a simulator, was granted only “ one-time ” approval because coronavirus restrictions resulted in it being unavailable.
Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). Transfer In the accident it was found that the likely cause was a malfunction of the landing gear that failed to extend.
An airport operations vehicle and a fellow pilot had spotted a 1977 Beechcraft Super King Air 200 landing on the ground without the landing gear malfunctioning, but they did not have time to sound the alarm before hitting the runway.
No one was injured, and the pilots of the Fly Welsh plane acted fast enough to board again. They were able to lower the wheels using the emergency mechanism before coming to land safely with firefighters and other emergency crews awaiting their arrival.
The AAIB report praised the pilots for their prompt response, but also highlighted the fact that the observer did not perform a visual inspection of the landing gear prior to takeoff at Bristol Airport due to “another activity requiring his attention at the time”.
The flight was part of a revitalization training for a pilot who had recently joined the Aircraft Operator Company.
The normal policy for the operator is to conduct such training in a simulator, according to the Arab African International Bank report.
She added, “Due to COVID-19 restrictions negatively affecting simulation availability, and contrary to normal operator policy, training has been conducted in the aircraft. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) (CAA) has issued a“ one-time flight approval ”for an event.
The cadet was the flight handling pilot, while the only other person on board was the 59-year-old captain, who had about 8,500 hours of flying experience.
The plan was to complete a single-engine landing before returning to Bristol and both pilots said they called the landing gear that appeared to be locked up before attempting to land.
Shortly before the plane landed, the airport operations vehicle driver noticed the problem. He tried to alert air traffic control with his UHF radio but made it to the landing before he could do so.
The pilot of another aircraft also observed while conducting pre-takeoff checks that it was too late to alert anyone.
The report said, “The pilots heard a loud metal noise,” and eyewitnesses reported that the plane “crashed into the runway.”
The “ turn around ” was immediately started and the pilots were able to ensure the plane’s departure from the runway.
As they returned to the air, they tried again to lower the landing gear but found it did not extend. They eventually managed to extend it by using the emergency mechanism to lower the undercarriage.
The pilots then flew through the control tower for a visual inspection from air traffic control before making a second successful attempt to land.
The AAIB report says the communication problems led to confusion, as the pilots did not officially declare the state of emergency, and the air traffic control crew, unaware of the potential damage to the aircraft’s engines, were simply expecting to return to Bristol, where it was scheduled to return after the planned landing in Exeter Airport.
When the air traffic controllers realized that the pilots intended to land on Exeter They initiated “full emergency” procedures at the airport, making the fire service available immediately and calling the local authority emergency services.
Once all the emergency crews arrived at their positions, the report emphasized, the pilots made a “quiet landing”.
Checks made to the runway after the accident showed signs of the propeller hitting the ground, as well as breaking the light.
The report added that the plane suffered propeller damage and minor damage to the rear part of the fuselage and the engines were loaded with shocks.
An investigation by the Air Traffic Control Unit after the accident found that: “The pilots’ rapid response to the sounds of propellers hitting the runway enabled them to fly far away, thus avoiding further damage to the aircraft. “
She added that “the engineering diagnosis after the accident confirmed the presence of a defect in the electrical control system of the undercarriage, which prevented the landing gear from being lowered when it was selected down.”
In the wake of the accident, which occurred in fine weather at 11.41 am on March 20, the Civil Aviation Authority said it would review whether the procedures for approving one-off flights should include a broader set of criteria.