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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