737 lost gear on missed approach

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By David Learmount in London

A TNT Airways Boeing 737-300 freighter involved in a landing accident at Birmingham International airport on 15 June had lost its right main landing gear during an attempted missed approach at Nottingham East Midlands airport.

After a heavy touchdown at East Midlands broke off the starboard landing gear, the crew elected to divert to Birmingham, where the aircraft came to rest on the right engine and left main gear, according to a special bulletin released by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

tnt-737_airteamimages 
© AirTeamImages

The TNT 737-300 diverted to Birmingham and landed without injury to crew

The aircraft began its flight at Liège, Belgium bound for London Stansted, UK, but entered the hold because the weather was below minima. After 30min holding, and following consultation with his company, the captain decided to divert to the preferred alternate airport, Nottingham East Midlands. The weather at Nottingham was going to require a Category 3A instrument landing system approach to runway 27, says the report, and the approach “was uneventful until approximately one mile [1.5km] from the runway threshold the autopilot was momentarily disconnected and re-engaged”.

The aircraft “then went above the glideslope before developing a high rate of descent. At the same time it deviated to the left of the centre-line. A go-around was initiated, but the aircraft touched down heavily on the grass area to the left of the runway threshold.” The right main gear broke off, says the report, causing extensive external damage to the aircraft and the loss of one of its three hydraulic systems. “The aircraft continued for a short distance with the right engine, right outboard flap track fairing and right wing tip in contact with the ground before lifting off again,” says the report.

Once airborne again, the crew declared a Mayday and diverted to Birmingham where “the weather conditions were good” and made a landing on runway 33. The flightcrew were uninjured.

External link:
Read the UK AAIB's full incident report into the TNT Airways' Boeing 737-300 Freighter landing gear failure at Birmingham on 15 June

Is Safety bottoming out?

The downward slope in fatal airline accident numbers shows signs of bottoming out, according to Flight International’s review of industry safety figures for the first six months of 2006. Results for the period show only marginally better figures than the first half of 2005.

At a time when the commercial air transport industry is firmly re-established in a period of traffic growth following the post-9/11 dip, the number of fatal airline accidents remains below the half-year average for the decade. Flight International will reveal in its full airline safety and accident analysis in our next issue (18-24 July).

Up to 30 June there have been 14 fatal airline accidents this year compared with 16 the previous year, and the relative comparisons for the number of fatalities was 176 against 222.