Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wheels-up approach and go-around involving PA-31-350, VH-TXK, at Townsville Airport, Queensland, 9 January 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 9 January 2015, a pilot in-command-under-supervision (ICUS), and a supervising pilot, operated a Piper PA-31-350 aircraft, registered VH-TXK, on a charter flight from Palm Island to Townsville, Queensland, with seven passengers on board. At about 1630 Eastern Standard Time (EST), air traffic control (ATC) cleared the aircraft to conduct a visual approach via a left base, to runway 07 at Townsville Airport.

When about 4 NM from the runway, the pilot ICUS performed the pre-landing checks, but omitted to extend the landing gear. The supervising pilot confirmed the mixture, fuel pumps and landing lights had been set correctly, and assumed the rest of the checks had been similarly completed. As the pilot ICUS flared the aircraft to land, he anticipated the landing gear touching down on the runway, but as it did not occur when he expected, he commenced a go-around. Neither of the pilots heard an aural gear warning horn sound. 

As the pilot ICUS commenced the go-around, a VHF antenna fitted to the underside of the aircraft fuselage contacted the runway. The pilot ICUS established the aircraft in a slow cruise configuration, extended flap and selected the landing gear lever to the extended position. The landing gear extended and locked and three green lights indicated a safe extension. The aircraft subsequently landed on runway 07 without further incident.

The VHF antenna was found on the runway, having broken off from the underside of the aircraft after striking the runway. The pilots and passengers were uninjured.

This incident highlights the need to follow procedures and complete checklists diligently.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 40


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General details
Date: 09 January 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1635 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Townsville Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Wheels up landing  
Release date: 22 April 2015   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-31-350  
Aircraft registration VH-TXK  
Serial number 31-7405189  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Palm Island, Qld  
Destination Townsville, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018