On 12 December 2014, the pilot of a Cessna 310 aircraft registered VH-TBE (TBE) was completing a charter flight from Oenpelli to Jabiru, Northern Territory. On board were the pilot, two adults and three children.
During the short flight, one of the passengers coughed incessantly through the headset which distracted the pilot. Once he had the aircraft stable he reached over and unplugged the headset.
The pilot manoeuvred the aircraft to join a late downwind for runway 27 at Jabiru. He reported that, as he commenced the pre-landing checks and verbalised 'undercarriage down' but made a decision to defer the associated procedure. He elected to keep the aircraft speed slightly higher than normal and as per the company procedures kept a stable power setting and profile and only made adjustments when needed at around 300 ft. He was also mindful of a Cessna 210 aircraft close behind VH-TBE.
He then focussed on the passengers, and made sure that had their seatbelts correctly fastened prior to landing.
The pilot reported that he normally completed the remaining memory-recall PUFF (set Propeller pitch, Undercarriage down, and Flaps Full down) check on final approach, but on this occasion he did not.
As the pilot flared the aircraft for landing he became aware that the undercarriage was not down and the propellers contacted the ground.
This incident highlights the impact a combination of distractions can have on aircraft operations.
Further reading on distractions for flight crew is available at:
- Dangerous Distraction: An examination of accidents and incidents involving pilot distraction in Australia between 1997 and 2004
- Flight Safety Foundation Approach-and-landing Briefing Note 2.4 – Interruptions/Distractions