On 29 March 2013, at about 1000 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Piper PA-30 aircraft, registered VH-HPR (HPR), departed Bankstown Airport for Griffith Airport on a private flight. On board were the pilot and two passengers.

Following the take-off, the pilot selected the landing gear up. Passing through 400 ft, the tower advised that the landing gear was still down. The pilot responded that he would continue with the departure and hold at 2,000 ft to troubleshoot the problem. 

At 2,000 ft, the pilot engaged the autopilot and confirmed that the gear was selected up, but the gear down and locked light remained illuminated. The pilot checked the circuit breakers and could not see any that had tripped. The pilot then cycled the gear a number of times, however, the gear did not retract and the gear down and locked light remained illuminated. 

The pilot elected to return to Bankstown and was cleared for a straight in approach. On short finals, the tower advised HPR to ‘check wheels’, the pilot confirmed that the green down and locked light was still illuminated and that the gear selector was in the down position.

HPR touched down on the main wheels followed by the nose wheel, which collapsed when it contacted the ground, followed by the left main wheel and right main wheel. The pilot and passengers exited the aircraft without injury and the aircraft sustained substantial damage. 

Inspection of the aircraft by a licenced maintenance organisation was arranged by the insurer. The landing gear mechanism was visually inspected and the worm drive was almost to the full retraction position, indicating the gear was retracted electrically.

The reason for this electrical retraction despite the gear selector being in the down position was not determined.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin Issue 20