Aviation safety investigations & reports

Wheels up landing involving Piper PA31, VH-ETW, Birdsville Airport, Qld, on 4 July 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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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   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Birdsville Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Wheels up landing  
Release date: 14 December 2016   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

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  
Last update 14 November 2018