- The Airbus A320, with 99 on board, took off last Saturday from Kolkata
- But with the wheels affecting the aerodynamics it burned excessive fuel
- They reportedly only realised the gear was already down when they diverted
Two Air India pilots have been grounded after their aircraft nearly ran out of fuel – because they’d forgotten to retract the landing gear.
The Airbus A320, with 99 passengers on board, took off last Saturday from Kolkata, bound for Mumbai, but with the wheels affecting the aerodynamics it burned excessive quantities of fuel.
It wasn’t able to climb above 24,000 feet nor accelerate beyond 265mph, when it should have been able to cruise at 35,000 to 37,000 feet and reach 520mph.
Two Air India pilots have been grounded after their aircraft nearly ran out of fuel – because they’d forgotten to retract the landing gear (file image)
The two pilots were oblivious to the landing wheels being down and diverted to Nagpur when the fuel ran low, it was reported.
It was when they tried to lower the landing gear as they prepared to land that they realised it was already down, a source told The Times of India.
He said: ‘The pilots were de-rostered (taken off flying duty) after the incident was reported.’
Air freight pilot and aerial photographer Christiaan van Heijst commented: ‘It happens every now and then that pilots need a lower altitude and slower speed than usual. This can happen because of various reasons, for example turbulence, pressurisation problems or other technical issues that require the aircraft to fly lower.
The Airbus A320, with 99 passengers on board, took off last Saturday from Kolkata, bound for Mumbai, but with the wheels affecting the aerodynamics it burned excessive quantities of fuel (file image)
‘Air Traffic Control will always try to accommodate pilots in those requests and has no reason to ask for the reason why. When pilots need a lower altitude they have a good reason to do so.
‘Why this particular aircraft flew with the gear down for a long period of time is something I don’t know and dare not to speculate about since I was not there and do not know what kind of possibly complex situation these pilots were facing.
‘I’m looking forward to the final investigation report to learn about any additional factors that contributed to that decision of the pilots and maybe can learn from it myself as well.’
Issues with the landing gear usually revolve around lowering them.
For example, in February 2016 a Boeing 727 touched down on its nose without any functioning landing gear.
The Asia Pacific Airlines plane pulled off the risky landing at Guam International Airport without injuring the three crew members who were on board during the ‘training flight’.
Just 20 minutes before the plane was due to land, airport control received an alert that a developing situation could affect the aircraft’s safe landing.
The plane flew an hour over schedule and released fuel to make the aircraft lighter before the landing, airport spokeswoman Rolenda Faasuamalie told the Pacific Daily News at the time.
It then practiced a landing, technically known as a ‘touch-and-go’ maneuver, before successfully touching down.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online