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On 4 July 2016, at about 0940 Eastern Standard Time, a Piper PA31-325 aircraft, registered VH-ETW (ETW), arrived at Birdsville Airport, Queensland. The pilot and four passengers were on board the charter flight.

The pilot of ETW overflew the airport on the upwind end to reduce the possibility of a conflict with an arriving SAAB. ETW joined for a wide downwind leg of the circuit and lowered the landing gear. The SAAB that had just landed had not vacated the runway, so the pilot retracted the landing gear.

At the end of the downwind leg, the pilot selected the landing gear handle down. The pilot noticed that the landing gear selector moved out more easily than normal.

During the turn onto the base leg, the pilot felt something against their right knee and found that it was the landing gear selector handle, which had become partially detached. The pilot took hold of the handle to ensure it was not lost.

The pilot inserted the handle back into the landing gear selector lever and retracted and extended the landing gear to ensure that everything was operating correctly. The pilot removed the handle and kept hold of it.

The pilot flared the aircraft for landing, as the attitude kept increasing, the pilot slowly advanced the throttles, the propellers struck the runway. The aircraft speed had increased to take off speed and the pilot continue with a take-off.

The pilot conducted a circuit and landed without further incident. The pilot and passengers were uninjured and the aircraft had minor damage to the propellers.

In the flying environment, interruptions and distractions can be subtle and brief and can interrupt the normal flow in the cockpit resulting in a preoccupation and distraction with one task to the detriment of another task.


Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 55

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General details
Date: 06 July 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 14:23 EST  
Location   (show map):Birdsville Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Wheels up landing 
Release date: 14 December 2016 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-31-325 
Aircraft registration: VH-ETW 
Serial number: 31-8112012 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
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Last update 18 April 2017