Why didn’t Mike Carriker raise the 787′s landing gear?

This question seems to be popping up all over and I thought it was best to try and explain why the 787′s landing gear wasn’t retracted immediately after takeoff.

During first flights, landing gear is rarely retracted until well into the flight when it is established that everything is safe and stable on the aircraft. In case of an emergency it’s one less item to worry about and and second, it creates an entirely new problem if the gear does not come back down again. The landing gear can be dropped with the help of gravity as a backup of need be, but ultimately leaving the gear down provides an additional margin of safety for the crew.
That being said, the 787′s landing gear was cycled once during the flight by Carriker and Neville, which they reported was successful.

26 Responses to Why didn’t Mike Carriker raise the 787′s landing gear?

  1. John in CA December 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    I think it’s important to note that Boeing flew the aircraft is less than ‘ideal’ weather. I think they were prudent is landing a little early….and no doubt they would have liked to have spent more time in the air.

    At least they know she does well in rain.

  2. Rene Rosales December 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    I was curious as heck to see her gear up too, so here are a couple of quick photoshop hacks on my part (including the 1 on the previous topic)

    (when I get time I’ll “raise” the flaps)

    (in this photo the flaps were already retracted)

    Original source for gearup2, to give credit to original photographer:

  3. alexandar December 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    He did.

    Randy just published a picture of 787 with gears up.

  4. Nick Hayes December 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    I received a number of photos of the A400M first flight from a friend at Airbus. In all of them the landing gear was down, even when they were flying over the mountains!

  5. Ian December 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    why fo the 787 wings seem to flex up so much – design? or is it another weakness ?

  6. bugref December 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    if you can read some of 787 design article 787 wings wingspan is longer compare to other aircraft with comparable size, for it to flex, and yah its was designed for aerodynamics and added lift. I just got this information in an article so i just shared it with you. to say the least 787 is the aircraft closer to the birds wings… to be specific compare it with how the eagle glides and compare its wings.
    I am not an expert of aerodynamics or aircraft stuff, just one of those individual that catches 787 attention. and also been monitoring her progress since it was unveiled in 2007 care of flightblogger and now moved here in flightglobal domain.

  7. Michael December 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    The 787 wings flex by design – it improves the aerodynamics. You can see this amazing flex on the original computer images: See http://airlineworld.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/dreamliner_promo01.jpg

  8. Gordon Werner December 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    photo of the 787 with the gear up


  9. Gabriel December 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    Awsome! Thanks Gordan! Just what most of us had been waiting and looking for a picture of the dreamliner 1 with the gears up taken by one of the 2 T-33s!

  10. Jonathon December 16, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    One of the beneficial side effects for the flex wing design is also less turbulence which adds to the marketing position of the Dreamliner as a more comfortable experience.

  11. Littlesammy December 16, 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    A friend who works at Boeing told me no gear raising on takeoff and VFR is an FAA requirement for first flights..

  12. VDML December 17, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    Check this out from Randy’s Journal…with the gear up.


    The plane is absolutely the most beautiful flying machine ever built. Can’t wait to see the 747-8

  13. Roman December 17, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    Interesting, I was wondering why pilots left the gear down

  14. Uwe December 17, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    You have the same pronounced effect on the A380.

    Only due to the outboard engines it has droopy wings
    sitting on the ground.

    The deflections to ultimate load are similar
    26ft for the b787 and
    25ft for the a380 ( which I find quite astonishing
    as the differential change in length on upper compared
    to lower wingskin is higher due to the much thicker
    wing )

  15. Andreas December 17, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    [i]I received a number of photos of the A400M first flight from a friend at Airbus. In all of them the landing gear was down, even when they were flying over the mountains![/i]

    Have a look at:


    and go on picture page 7. There are several pictures of the A400M with the landing gear up.

    Best regards from Germany

  16. Brandon December 20, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    I am an airframe mechanic and I can tell you, the wings aren’t flexing because “its another weakness” to the plane. Obviously this person is clueless to airplane design. To see an airplane not flex in flight does indicate how “tough” it is. Remember the adage, “bend, don’t break?” Well, that goes for airplanes to. If it doesn’t bend, it breaks. It’s all built into the design. Every airliners wings bend in flight. Just sit above the wing and watch it. When he rotates for takeoff and the wing carries the weight of the aircraft upward, the wings can flex several feet as they droop on the ground with no weight to carry.

    When Boeing designed this airplane, they started with a fresh sheet of paper. Everything they did with this plane was new, and thus untested. So to say that it’s “weak” is wrong. There are very few weaknesses with this airplane and considering the time, effort and money spent on it, I’m impressed it did so well. It’s “hat’s off” to the engineers at Boeing for “getting it right” yet again!

  17. Rick January 5, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    I’m an engineer at Boeing on the 787.

    I’d like to give the Reader’s Digest version of the 787 wing flex.

    This design feature was first introduced on the 777. The idea was based on the leaf-springs on a car. As noted earlier – we could make a stiffer wing, but that adds tremendous weight and gains little aerodynamically. But the biggest advantage was the smoother ride in turbulence.

    With the advent of Carbon Fiber wings – the fatigue due to wing bending is eliminated so we decided to take full advantage of the wing flex for in-flight comfort and additional positive dihedreal stability.

    Again – think leaf springs on a car.

    And Happy flying.

  18. Christiaan March 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    most beautiful flying machine ever built… HAH! Typical of you Yanks. No better to look at than any of Boeing’s other blah looking aircraft. Our Concorde, now she was a sight!

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  20. Jere Xie June 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    There may be clearly a lot to understand about this. I believe you designed some good points.Retain functioning ,wonderful position!

  21. Ben Brisendine July 1, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Reynaldo Eva

  22. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Georgia July 30, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    Yes that it, one should know this actually, that landing gear is rarely retracted during first flights, until well into the flight.

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