Crash investigators reveal extraordinary story of TNT Boeing 737 accident at Birmingham

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Investigators have disclosed that the TNT Airways Boeing 737-300 freighter which conducted an apparent gear-up landing at Birmingham Airport, UK last month had actually lost its right main undercarriage during a failed attempt to land at Nottingham a few minutes earlier.

Owing to poor weather at London Stansted, following a flight from Liege, Belgium on 15 June, the aircraft had diverted to Nottingham East Midlands Airport and was carrying out a Category IIIA approach to runway 27 at around 05:40, reports the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

About 1nm (1.8km) from touchdown the aircraft’s approach became unstable, after a momentary disconnection and re-engagement of the autopilot. The 737 rose above the glideslope, before descending rapidly and deviating to the left of the centreline.

Although the crew began a go-around the aircraft landed heavily on grass to the left of the runway threshold – the impact tearing off the right main landing-gear and causing damage to the right inboard flaps, wing-fuselage fairing, hydraulic system and the rear freight hold door.

Despite the damage, and although the aircraft’s outer wing and starboard engine contacted the ground, the 737 managed to become airborne again. The crew declared an emergency and diverted to Birmingham, where weather conditions were good, touching down on runway 33 at 06:02.

With its right main-gear absent, the aircraft came to rest on its starboard engine. Neither of the two crew members of the 737-300, a 19-year old example registered OO-TND, was injured.

Both airports suffered disruption to operations as a result of the accident. AAIB personnel are carrying out an inquiry into the circumstances. The organisation says: “At this early stage of the investigation it is not considered necessary to make any formal safety recommendations.”