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Wrong lever results in runway accident

  • During a landing roll, pilot inadvertently retracted the landing gear of an Aero Commander 500S.
  • Pilots should take the time to identify any control lever before they action it.
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The inadvertent retraction of an Aero Commander’s landing gear on the runway shows the ease with which habitual piloting actions can result in an error.  

On 21 August 2012, at about 1430 Eastern Standard Time, an Aero Commander 500S registered VH-YJS (YJS) departed Charleville Airport, Queensland for Brisbane Airport via, Roma, Dalby and Toowoomba on a freight only charter flight under the IFR. The pilot was the only person on board.

This resulted in the main gear collapsing and the aircraft sliding for a short distance before coming to rest on the runway.

During the landing roll the landing gear was inadvertently retracted and the lower fuselage contacted the runway. The pilot exited the aircraft without injury however the lower fuselage of the aircraft was damaged.

A manual safe pin was incorporated as a design feature to prevent inadvertent retraction of the landing gear. However operation of the gear lever and safe pin together had become an automatic response by the pilot and the effectiveness of the safe pin as a countermeasure reduced. Pilots are reminded to positively identify any control lever before actioning.

The Aero Commander 500S departed Charleville Airport in Queensland bound for Brisbane airport via Toowoomba on a freight charter flight. About 300 m into the landing roll at Toowoomba airport, the pilot inadvertently retracted the landing gear while attempting to retract the aircraft’s wing flaps. This resulted in the main gear collapsing and the aircraft sliding for a short distance before coming to rest on the runway. The pilot, the only person on board, survived the accident without injury.

A manual ‘safe’ pin had been incorporated as a design feature to prevent inadvertent retraction of the landing gear. However, the pilot’s operation of the gear level and safe pin at the same time had become an automatic action, reducing the effectiveness of the safe pin as a countermeasure.

As a result of this accident, the operator has taken a number of safety actions, including modifying the landing gear control, and implementing random flight checks by check and training captains. In addition, the ATSB is encouraging pilots to take the time to identify any control lever positively before they action it.

The full investigation report, AO-2012-110, contains useful information on skill-based errors and muscle memory.

 
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Last update 11 January 2013