Damage found to the nose landing gear light and left main landing gear of an Airbus A320 discovered by the flight crew after a flight from Sydney to Proserpine demonstrates the importance of visual inspections, a new ATSB investigation notes.
The Jetstar Airways A320 had operated a scheduled service from Sydney to Proserpine on 5 March 2020 when on their post-flight walkaround the flight crew found the damaged landing light and left main landing gear, including a pierced hydraulic brake line.
“The ATSB’s investigation determined that the nose gear landing light was probably struck and damaged during departure from Sydney, and that the glass lens from the light most likely struck the main landing gear, piercing a hydraulic brake line,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.
Hydraulic fluid found in the main gear wheel well, likely from the punctured hydraulic line, was probably discharged when the crew raised the landing gear during departure from Sydney, while the investigation also notes that there was no indication that the aircraft had been struck by ground support equipment prior to departure from Sydney.
“While the cause of the damage could not be determined, the nose gear landing light was probably struck and damaged during departure from Sydney.”
Mr Macleod said the investigation considered if the aircraft struck foreign object debris during its take-off roll, or a bird or a drone during departure from Sydney before the landing gear had been retracted.
“However, no debris was found during runway inspections at Sydney Airport, there was no evidence of a drone operating in the area, and there was no visible biological evidence of a wildlife strike.”
As a result, the source of the impact to the nose gear landing light could not be conclusively determined.
“This incident highlights the important role visual inspections play in maintaining the safety of an aircraft,” said Mr Macleod.
“In this case, a vigilant flight crew identified damage to their aircraft that could have otherwise impacted on the safety of subsequent flights.”
Read the report AO-2020-018: Landing gear damage involving Airbus A320, VH-VFL, near Sydney, New South Wales, on 5 March 2020Last update 12 February 2021