Faulty service valves suspected in Beech 1900D belly landing

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Malfunctioning landing gear service valves appear to have played a part in causing the wheels-up landing of a CommutAir Raytheon Beech 1900D at Rochester, New York on 3 June after operating a US Airways Express flight from Washington Dulles Airport.

No-one among the two pilots and 11 passengers on board the aircraft was injured in the incident, which occurred just before 16:00 local time at the greater Rochester International Airport.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report of the incident cites the pilots of the aircraft as saying that the Beech 1900D's landing gear retracted normally after take-off from Washington Dulles.

However, when the pilots selected the landing gear handle to the 'down' position in preparation for landing at Rochester, the landing gear would not extend.

The crew performed the checklist for abnormal landing gear operation - including trying to pump the landing gear manually using the alternate gear extension handle - but the landing gear still did not extend.

They made two approaches to the airport and then departed the area for the pilots to communicate with CommutAir's maintenance department and to evaluate the situation.

Eventually the pilots decided to land the aircraft with the gear retracted and flew the Beech 1900D back to the airport, touching down on Greater Rochester International's runway 04, a 6,300ft asphalt runway. The Beech 1900D skidding to a stop, sustaining minor damage in the incident.

When a crane raised the aircraft off the runway, the landing gear did not lower of its own accord. The maintenance crew then attempted unsuccessfully to lower the landing gear by moving the landing gear selector handle to the 'down' position and by using the alternate (manually pumped) extension handle.

However, when the hydraulic pressure to the landing gear system was recharged, the landing gear extended and locked.

Further testing of the Beech 1900D's landing gear then took place after the aircraft was removed from the runway. Technicians replaced the landing gear service valve and cycled the landing gear using the landing gear selector handle, but an attempt to extend the landing gear using the alternate extension handle was unsuccessful.

The technicians then replaced the landing gear service valve again and cycled the gear both using the main selector handle and manually.

The NTSB preliminary report notes than on 28 May CommutAir maintenance personnel had replaced the aircraft's landing gear service valve after its landing gear failed to extend and the crew had to manually pump the gear down.

CommutAir retained the faulty valve replaced on 28 May and the two valves replaced on 3 June for further examination by the FAA and NTSB.