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Old 25th July 2017, 20:08   #1
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Default Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/59747345.cms


Read this in the newspapers today.

Modern cars give several warnings if drivers do simple mistakes like driving with hand-brakes engaged, it raises a lot of questions in this case :

- How could the pilot miss such a simple yet important task ?
- What kind of training do our pilots receive ?
- If the plane is unable to climb at normal rate, didn't they sense something wrong ?
- The plane was flying for quite some time with landing gear down, didn't the pilots feel any drag or a bumpy ride all the while ?
- Isn't there any kind of alarm/warning to retract the landing gear in the aircraft ?
- What if the forces were too high to create any problems with the landing gear (and the plane itself) ?

While it might not sound a big news as everyone was safe, it really got me worried as to what kind of training they get and the level of competency these pilots have. I cannot imagine what such pilots will do in dangerous circumstances.
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Old 25th July 2017, 21:00   #2
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Wow, that's a first. So apart from the landing gear out through the entire flight, they probably were at the wrong altitude as well. Surprised they even noticed that the fuel was running out.

This should be on the 'Bad drivers- how to spot them'- page.

Some pilots on our forum should comment on this and throw some light.

Last edited by noopster : 29th July 2017 at 10:16. Reason: Typo
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Old 25th July 2017, 21:04   #3
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NiInJa View Post
Modern cars give several warnings if drivers do simple mistakes like driving with hand-brakes engaged, it raises a lot of questions in this case :

- How could the pilot miss such a simple yet important task ?
- What kind of training do our pilots receive ?
- If the plane is unable to climb at normal rate, didn't they sense something wrong ?
- The plane was flying for quite some time with landing gear down, didn't the pilots feel any drag or a bumpy ride all the while ?
- Isn't there any kind of alarm/warning to retract the landing gear in the aircraft ?
- What if the forces were too high to create any problems with the landing gear (and the plane itself)?

Very unfortunate event, and something which should never have happened. Assuming it was not a technical issue, this is a error of grave proportions.

To answer your questions,

1. Impossible to miss.

2. Any and all pilots receive the same training, be it India or anywhere else. And this isn't even an issue where there was any CRM confusion. Positive rate gear up, is literally the first thing any pilot does after wheels off.

3. Drag due to the gear is extremely noticeable, and the vibrations and general loss of controllability as well. If you've been flying for a long time, you'll know at once when you have the yoke in your hands. Apart from that, you'll also have UNABLE CLB ALTITUDE displayed and slow airspeed. All of those things are extreme noticeable.

4. The ECAM checklist does show it, dunno how they missed it. If there is any item not green, it shows up.

5. Structural Integrity was compromised in this case, no doubt about that.
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Old 25th July 2017, 21:15   #4
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

I was shocked too on hearing this news. Every now and then there have been rumors doing the round as to how the quality of Pilots has drastically gone down ever since the skies opened up for the masses. Reports of fudging flying hours, forged exam results and ghost flying schools etc. have been implicated as few of the reasons. Incidents like these only force one to believe these rumors.

On the other hand, it ought to be impossible for the Pilots to not notice such an irregularity given the amount of gadgetry there is on modern aircrafts. May be the media is over reporting as they do so often these days and it was actually a case of equipment failure. Although in that case they would have probably turned back to Kolkata.
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Old 25th July 2017, 21:45   #5
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

The article states more than once that the plane had both women pilots.

Hope the investigation doesn't take an unnecessary sexist turn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by searchingheaven View Post
4. The ECAM checklist does show it, dunno how they missed it. If there is any item not green, it shows up.
Any chance they did pull the switch (or whatever it is to execute) to retract the landing gear but it didn't?

We have had many cases where the landing gear didn't deploy; probably this one was where it didn't retract?
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Old 25th July 2017, 22:01   #6
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
The article states more than once that the plane had both women pilots.

Hope the investigation doesn't take an unnecessary sexist turn.

Any chance they did pull the switch (or whatever it is to execute) to retract the landing gear but it didn't?

We have had many cases where the landing gear didn't deploy; probably this one was where it didn't retract?
I think the "women pilot" was mentioned by TOI only to fan the flames of a sexist debate - very similar to "woman driver" stereotyping. No other reason to mention it I think.

On another note, if my knowledge serves me right, landing gear position is clearly indicated by lights in the cockpit. And these lights function similar to hand brake position warning light on the dashboard of cars. If the light says it is up, it surely is up.

Unless, of course, the warning lights themselves were non-functional. Being an aircraft, I am sure there will be a redundant system for this as well.
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Old 26th July 2017, 01:19   #7
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Wow! What a bizarre incident.

First am surprised they missed one of the first things from the checklist one would after a positive climb is confirmed. Flying with the gear down creates quite a ruckus, its very obvious even for a passenger. The crew not noticing sounds quite strange. I don't buy the monsoon, turbulence argument. Flights at cruising altitude aren't affected by weather are they? And turbulence doesn't give you the noise of wind drag, similar to how a driver/passenger would feel if a car is driven at 100 km/h with windows rolled down.

The pilots don't realise there is a problem, if the flight levels out at FL240 and doesn't climb to FL350? ATC personnel don't think it is unusual to cruise at 240 instead of the usual 350 and above? Autopilot would also be programmed to cruise at 350-370, no? Why does it level out at 240?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KiloAlpha View Post
On another note, if my knowledge serves me right, landing gear position is clearly indicated by lights in the cockpit. And these lights function similar to hand brake position warning light on the dashboard of cars. If the light says it is up, it surely is up.
This is correct, and there 3 separate lights, one for each wheel set.
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Old 26th July 2017, 01:25   #8
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KiloAlpha View Post
I think the "women pilot" was mentioned by TOI only to fan the flames of a sexist debate - very similar to "woman driver" stereotyping. No other reason to mention it I think.
ToI redeems itself a bit with this news item - Meet Anny Divya, world's youngest woman commander of a Boeing 777

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/v...w/59751123.cms
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Old 26th July 2017, 03:01   #9
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NiInJa View Post
- How could the pilot miss such a simple yet important task ?
To miss some thing like this is virtually impossible, the first thing on an A320's after take off/climb checklist is "Landing gear" - the other pilot replies with "up" after confirming the gear is up. This shows that the crew did not follow normal check lists, there are waypoints on a CFP - computerized flight plan and you keep checking those to match your fuel figures en route, if that was done, the pilots could have caught it out earlier but seems even that was not done. The landing gear produces 180% fuel penalty and this is the reason they almost ran out of fuel and had to divert midway, gear down causes so much more noise but nobody noticed it here.

With gear down, three big green lights shine in your face above the gear lever, you just can not miss it.
Quote:
- What kind of training do our pilots receive ?
Training is standardized but as a company, one expects its pilots to follow standard procedures and rules, not calling out check lists etc is a gross violation and DGCA would take strict action if this was not done when the cockpit voice recorder is examined. There is a reason why 2 pilots sit inside the cockpit, sadly no one noticed such a major goof up in this case.
-
Quote:
If the plane is unable to climb at normal rate, didn't they sense something wrong ?
They seem to have ignored every thing and turned a blind eye, forgetting to put landing gear up till cruise is criminal, check lists are there for a reason, if you do not follow the rules, such mishaps are bound to happen.

Quote:
- Isn't there any kind of alarm/warning to retract the landing gear in the aircraft ?
No, there is no reminder to take the gear up, there is one in case you come to land and forget to put it down.
-
Quote:
What if the forces were too high to create any problems with the landing gear (and the plane itself) ?
A320 has no landing gear limitation in terms of altitude, as for speed restrictions - you can extend it till 250 knots and keep it extended till 280 knots. If these speeds were not exceeded, every thing would be fine.
There is a procedure in our fcom - "flight with landing gear down" but such flights are only for ferry flights/maintenance purposes with no passengers on board and so many precautions, these pilots tried it with passengers.

Quote:
what kind of training they get and the level of competency these pilots have. I cannot imagine what such pilots will do in dangerous circumstances.
As a pilot, i understand your concern. I usually advice people to stop pouncing on flight crew before more information is there but as per news, this instance seems like all rules and procedures were just not followed, there is absolutely no way on how a pilot could afford to forget putting the gear up, and both crew members did not notice it. In a private carrier, both people would have lost their jobs.
As for dangerous situations, we are trained adequately for that, India's aviation safety record is good, there could be 1-2 instances like these but that does not mean all airlines in India have such casual attitude towards safety.
My company has 100% monitoring of voice recorders and data recorders and the moment some parameter is exceeded, we have to explain why that happened over email or coffee with flight safety department, have not seen a single pilot so far who took check lists casually, not doing them is impossible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Any chance they did pull the switch (or whatever it is to execute) to retract the landing gear but it didn't?
Not possible, that would have triggered a warning inside with an ecam message and the crew would have advised ATC about it, the crew would have a hard time explaining things to dgca.

Last edited by coolboy007 : 26th July 2017 at 03:02.
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Old 26th July 2017, 09:06   #10
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Default re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

I saw the words Air India and wasn't shocked at anything after that. If anything, we haven't even heard half of what goes on in the air and even less of what happens on the ground (maintenance).
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Old 26th July 2017, 10:38   #11
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Default Re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

This is nothing compared to these incidents:

On February 8, 1985, an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 crash-landed at Calcutta airport because the two pilots, Captains Nangia and Chandok had "forgotten" to lower the undercarriage before landing. The plane was destroyed and over 100 passengers narrowly escaped death. On June 18, 1988, that near tragedy was replicated at Delhi airport: here too, the two pilots forgot to lower the landing gear and the plane slithered and slewed down the runway on its belly, sparks flying. Luck and quick action by the fire-fighting staff at the airport prevented casualties.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/i.../1/329909.html

The second incident I believe was because the pilots were punch drunk. I remember reading the India Today cover story about this some 15-20 years back. Alcohol tests for pilots became mandatory after that.

Pradeep

PS: I am still searching for that India Today cover story. That probably is not digitized or my search is not able to pick up that specific story.
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Old 26th July 2017, 11:03   #12
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There was Indian Airline accident where am Airbus crew forgot to retract flaps on flight between Hyderabad and Chennai. Plane ran out of fuel.

What's worth further inquiry why ATC did not observe deviation from flight level

Edit - this link says that flaps failed to retract
https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19931115-1

Last edited by sudev : 26th July 2017 at 11:06.
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Old 26th July 2017, 11:17   #13
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Default Re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

I remember when I first bought a PC, almost 12 years back, it had a flight simulation game on it. I never managed to fly it on that simulation because I could never locate the key (or the combination of keys) to retract the landing gear. It flashed all sorts of lights and warnings for it and never really flew as such. It just took off and then warnings and lights and lot of turbulence and that's it,
If a flight simulation game, which was released 12-14 years back, had it, I find it impossible that an actual plane of this generation missed such warnings.

A case of job taken lightly? or equipment failure? Only time will tell.
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Old 26th July 2017, 12:41   #14
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Default Re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pradkumar View Post
This is nothing compared to these incidents
The passengers lived to tell a story alright, can't be as worse as Northwest 255 where the pilots forgot to extend flaps and slats for take off, 156 paid the price for it. Or the infamous Tenerife disaster that till date has the dubious distinction of being the deadliest air accident in aviation history claiming 583 lives. The latter incident is credited as a reason why we have crew resource management (CRM), that the above article mentions.

Enough of depressing aviation incidents that media is interested in highlighting.

Here are some recommended reads on historical incidents, that shed the well deserved respect on the profession:

- Northwest 85
- Speedbird 9
- United 232
- Neerja Bhanot
- Aloha 243
- LOT 16
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Old 26th July 2017, 13:02   #15
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Default Re: Air India plane flies from Kolkata to Nagpur with landing gear down, Pilots clueless!

Something does not connect the dots in this incident. The article clearly says that they were having a tough time gaining altitude and hence leveled out 24K feet instead of the usual 35K. They were flying at half the speed due to the huge drag. Above all, these are the modern fly-by-wire A320 we are talking about, not some yesteryear DC-10 or ll-62, So I would be not be surprised if the entire cockpit lit up with warning lights of all sorts, so to speak. Given all of this, its very hard to "miss" this all the way from Kolkatta to Nagpur.

To me it looks like they noticed the landing gear has not retracted after a while and perhaps it did not due to malfunction. And then instead of turning around / landing at the nearest airport, they were reckless enough to fly all the way to Nagpur until the low fuel scare hit their peanut brains.

I am not certified in anyway to judge the situation nor was I in the cockpit, but anyway you look at it, they put 100 passengers life in mortal danger -oversight or intentional does not matter - and should be stripped of their license.

Off Topic : They cant even get their basics right & they expect the government to bail them out on grounds of patriotism. Why would anyone in their right mind bail out an airline steeped in a 7.5 Billion$ debt and costing the government 750 Million$ every year. Thats like 1% of the nations fiscal deficit. Just kill it already, please !

Last edited by SR-71 : 26th July 2017 at 13:12.
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