Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.
On 4 May 2020, an Aero Commander 500-S was operating a freight charter flight from Port Lincoln Airport, South Australia with a single pilot on board. During initial climb, the pilot noticed that the landing gear unsafe light did not extinguish after the gear was retracted. The pilot contacted aerodrome ground crew to inspect the aircraft’s landing gear during a low-level fly-by. The ground crew, including an engineer, confirmed that the nose wheel was down but did not appear to be locked.
The pilot requested that emergency services attend the aerodrome for a return landing on runway 01, and continued troubleshooting in accordance with the operator’s standard operating procedures and the aircraft flight manual. The pilot conducted a touch-and-go landing on the rear wheels, which resulted in three green indication lights in the cockpit confirming the gear was down and locked. The crew subsequently conducted a further fly-by inspection where ground crew also confirmed the position of the nose landing gear. The aircraft then landed without further incident.
After an engineer inspected the landing gear, the aircraft taxied off the runway. An inspection of the landing gear system revealed that the nose gear actuator shaft had failed.
Figure 1: Failed nose gear actuator shaft
Source: Aircraft operator
As a result of previous similar occurrences, the aircraft operator has advised the ATSB that it has been conducting midlife inspections of the nose landing gear area, as well as additional testing of the actuator during overhauls. Additionally, their entire fleet of Aero Commander 500 aircraft has been fitted with underbelly skid blocks to support the nose in the event of a gear failure.
This incident highlights the importance of effective cockpit scans for the early detection of any abnormal situations during flight. In this instance, the pilot identified the fault, took all precautionary measures and communicated clearly with ground crews resulting in a safe landing.
About this report
Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.