Plane crash-landed after pilot forgot to drop landing gear
A LIGHT aircraft crash-landed at Jersey Airport – after the pilot forgot to drop the landing gear, according to an air accident report.
The single-engine Beechcraft 35, being flown by a 67-year-old Frenchman, suffered damage to its propeller, flaps and radio antennas when it hit the runway on the afternoon of 13 May.
The pilot, who had 1,300 flying hours, escaped unharmed.
According to the Air Accident Investigation Branch report, Jersey air traffic controllers instructed the pilot to follow a nearby Cherokee plane which was being guided down onto the airfield.
He initially contemplated extending the landing gear, but decided to delay dropping the wheels as the aircraft was travelling too fast.
When on final approach following the flight from Brest in Brittany, he realised that both aircraft were extremely close, and maintained height to avoid the Cherokee’s propeller wash – a turbulent mass of air which trails behind a plane.
The report continued: ‘The pilot was focussed intently on the Cherokee ahead and listening to the tower controller in case he was directed to go around.
‘He was aware of the stall warner sounding, then the Cherokee finally cleared the runway and the pilot received clearance to land.
‘The landing gear was not lowered and the aircraft landed gear-up.’
The runway was closed for about an hour and a half while the plane was inspected and moved from the runway.
Gus Paterson, director of civil aviation in the Channel Islands, said pilots are rarely prosecuted for such mistakes.
‘Aviation is a safety critical industry with a very strong “just culture”.
‘What this means in practice is that pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers and everyone else working in aviation needs to have confidence that mistakes can be reported in an open and honest way and we make sure that we learn as much as we can from each incident.
‘This has the effect that in practice it is very rare to take disciplinary or prosecutorial action. For this to be appropriate there would have to be an element of intent or recklessness. We treat most mistakes – however serious – as learning opportunities.’
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