British Airways B744 at London on Jan 30th 2016, both main gear did not extend

Last Update: October 13, 2016 / 16:00:50 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 30, 2016


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Boeing 747-400

ICAO Type Designator

A British Airways Boeing 747-400, registration G-CIVX performing flight BA-295 from London Heathrow,EN (UK) to Chicago O'Hare,IL (USA) with 293 passengers and 14 crew, was enroute at FL330 about 160nm south of Keflavik (Iceland) when the crew decided to return to London's Heathrow Airport due to a technical problem. On approach to Heathrow the crew dumped fuel, lowered the gear very early, subsequently reported an unsafe gear indication for both main gear, only nose and body gear had extended. The aircraft positioned for a 15nm final to Heathrow's runway 27R and landed safely on nose and body gear only and stopped on the runway about 20 minutes after reporting the unsafe gear.

The airport reported the runway was unavailable for about one hour until the aircraft was secured and towed off the runway.

Passengers reported the crew advised they were returning to London due to a technical problem, about 20 minutes prior to landing the crew announced that the landing gear did not fully extend with only three of five sets of gear having lowered. After the aircraft was towed to the apron, passengers were told to disembark very slowly, aft cabin first, otherwise the aircraft would tip over and settle on its tail.

The aircraft had last flown on Jan 24th 2016, then remained on the ground in Heathrow and was doing its first flight since.

A replacement Boeing 747-400 registration G-CIVI reached Chicago with a delay of 9 hours.

On Feb 3rd 2016 ground observer Wael AL-Qutub (see photos of approach below) advised, that following review of all photos taken during his session that day he discovered he had also taken photos of G-CIVX during departure, showing that a gear door had remained open after gear retraction (see new photos below).

On Feb 1st 2016 The Aviation Herald received information, that according to discussions amongst flight crew of British Airways the gear lever was stuck in the UP position and could not be moved into the middle position OFF or DOWN position (gear down) anymore. As result the hydraulic actuators of the gear uplocks remained pressurized preventing an alternate gear extension (gravity extension) too. In consultation with company dispatch, company maintenance and Boeing it was therefore decided to depressurize hydraulic system #1 to release the pressure from the uplocks of nose gear and body gear and enabling these three struts to be extended via gravity extension, but not to depressurize hydraulic system #4 (which pressurizes the uplock actuators of the main gear struts, but also brakes) in order to maintain sufficient braking capability to stop the aircraft on the runway at Heathrow. The full length of the runway in Heathrow was needed in order to stop the aircraft without the braking capability provided by the main gear (reducing brakes power to half).

On Feb 1st 2016 The Aviation Herald inquired with the press offices of British Airways as well as AAIB in order to find out, whether the scenario as described above is contradicted right away or can be verified. No reply was received, on Feb 3rd 2016 The Aviation Herald sent another inquiry to both but again received no reply.

On Oct 13th 2016 the AAIB released their bulletin reporting that the landing gear lever was stuck in the "UP" position as result of a maintenance error, that caused incorrect rigging of the landing gear lever system after the landing gear control module had been replaced.

The AAIB wrote with respect to the history of the flight (editorial note: effectively confirming the information The Aviation Herald received on Feb 1st 2016, however, without mentioning how the pressure in the hydraulic system preventing a gravity extension was removed):

The aircraft was on its first flight after an ‘A’ Check scheduled maintenance input. This check included an incoming defect which involved the replacement of the LGCM, which incorporates the landing gear lever. After takeoff the crew noticed that the landing gear lever felt unusual as they moved it from the dn (down) into the up position; they then found that it could not be moved from the up to the off detents (the off position depressurises the landing gear hydraulic system).

The crew discussed the problem with engineering staff on the ground and decided to return to Heathrow. The nose and the two body landing gear were lowered using the alternate gear extension procedure, and the aircraft landed successfully without the two wing landing gear having deployed.

The AAIB analysed:

The jammed landing gear lever was attributed to a rig pin not being inserted in the landing gear system during maintenance, which led to additional and unnecessary shims being used to rig the landing gear lever.

The following causal factors were identified by the operator’s maintenance investigation:

- The distraction of the engineer when he saw the quadrant move and he took his break;

- Deficiencies in the operator’s task card system;

- The omission of the need to fit the rig pin in the operator’s TR for this task;

- An inadequate handover between the night shift and the day shift.

EGLL 301820Z AUTO 25013KT 9999 NCD 06/M01 Q1011 NOSIG
EGLL 301750Z AUTO 25014KT 9999 SCT042 06/M02 Q1011 NOSIG
EGLL 301720Z AUTO 26013KT 9999 BKN043 07/M02 Q1011 NOSIG
EGLL 301650Z AUTO 27013KT 9999 -RA BKN045 07/M01 Q1011
EGLL 301620Z AUTO 27016KT 9999 NCD 06/M01 Q1011
EGLL 301550Z AUTO 27013KT 9999 NCD 07/M02 Q1010
EGLL 301520Z AUTO 27016KT 9999 NCD 07/M02 Q1010
EGLL 301450Z AUTO 27017KT 9999 NCD 07/M02 Q1010
EGLL 301420Z AUTO 27016KT 9999 NCD 08/M02 Q1009 NOSIG
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 30, 2016


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Boeing 747-400

ICAO Type Designator

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