Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gear down and locked

Old themes are sometimes worth revisiting. This time it’s lowering the gear in time to have it fully locked in the down position. I don’t think the reported gear “collapses”on the FAA accident site are due to mechanical problems very often. Rather, it most likely is a result of dropping the gear as an afterthought at the last minute

It takes some time to lower the gear and have the locks engage. Different planes take different times. Some lower in less than 5 seconds, others take longer. My old Cessna 172RG went through some gyrations to extend. The old Mooneys’ gear was lowered by the pilot moving a large chrome handle from the horizontal to the vertical. It took an effort, and the plane sometimes did a bit of a dip, but you knew the gear were down. The way you can tell if the gear is down and locked is when you get one or three green lights. There is a micro type switch at the wheels that closes when the gear is down in the locked position. I must add that I am not an A&E mechanic and that the specifics of gear operation and the light indications should be verified for each airplane. Yesterday I spoke with a licensed A&E who suggested that a persistence of a red transit light should be a warning that all is not secure. Not all planes have a red transit light however. Therefore if the green light or lights don’t come on, beware. Options are: recycle the gear. If still not right, try the mechanical crank down method. Some pilots will try to fly over the runway and have an observer give their impression. Just be prepared for a rough landing without the greens being lit. One last bit. Usually the bulbs can be tested by pressing on the light covers. This should be done before deciding that one or all the wheels are not down and locked if one of the lights is not on.

So watching for the lights is important. The next time you are on the web go the FAA site and check out the number of “gear ups” that are reported every weekend on the Monday log. On the 29March report, 7 out of 25 accidents involved the gear.

In my article: Three In The Green Or Else!, 10April2009, I discuss various ways to try and insure that the pilot lowers the gear before landing. They worked for me for years and I can recommend them. Try them out. Good habits can save one from a bunch of headaches and bills. Happy and safe landings.

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