Friday, June 11, 2010

Gear Problems Revisited

As gear problems continue to frequent the accident sites, I thought a brief discussion of landing with a failed nose gear would be of interest.

I just read about a Beech C90 that had a gear problem that resulted in a landing only on the mains. The nose gear mechanism failed, but the mains could be cranked down. Another gear failure with a similar result involved a C-177. It was reported that the plane had a gear malfunction indication, and upon landing the nose wheel failed.

As I thought about these two partial gear failures, and the resultant damage to props, engines, fuselage etc., I thought how damage could be minimized in the case of the single. Yup, you guessed it. Once you can identify that only the nose gear is involved, which may be easier said than done, land the plane as a glider. That means shut the engine off on short final, indexing the prop to horizontal with the starter. Land on the mains, keeping the wheel back until the plane stops and finally noses over. This would prevent damaging prop and engine, assuming one doesn’t stall it in. The latter can be avoided by carefully monitoring your airspeed. Not a procedure recommended for twins unless your last name begins with an S.

Regardless of the gear malfunction, it would be a good idea to do a flyby over the airport where a reliable observer is available. Tower operators usually will cooperate in this regard, weather and traffic permitting.

Remember, look for the gear down lights on final and before. Otherwise you may not “have a nice day”.

Happy and safe flying.

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