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`Forgetful' engineers put plane in peril, grounded

New Delhi : Two Air India engineers were grounded on Monday as they reportedly “forgot“ to remove pins from landing gear ­ which ensure that wheels of an aircraft on ground do not accidentally retract ­ while clearing a plane to take off. Due to this, the pilots could not retract the wheels on getting airborne and had to return to soon after take off. This unprecedented lapse took place on Monday when an AI aircraft was being prepared at Delhi for flying to Kochi. “The plane was cleared to take… (epaperbeta.timesofindia.com) さらに...

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"In peril"? Hardly. "Unprecedented"? Not even close.

Gear pins are left in on a bit too frequent basis, and is hardly cause for "peril". There's clear indication in the cockpit that the gear are not retracted and, depending on the rig/adjustment of the sensors plus the logic of the indication system, the gear may still indicate down and locked.

Keep in mind that the first test flights of a new aircraft, the gear is not retracted. The plane flies just fine, comes back and lands safely, and everyone opens the champagne and celebrates. The planes are certainly quite capable of flight with gear extended. There are operational limits (speed and fuel burn considerations) to take into account, but I'd hardly characterize those as placing the flight "in peril". "Inconvenience" is a far more accurate term.
Pretty sure you're supposed to put the gear down to land (unless you forget that too) and plane flies just fine. Geez.
LOL... You are supposed to.. Unless you are intentionally landing on water.... I have always heard it says you can tell that you forgot to put your gear down when it takes A LOT more power to taxi to the gate! :)
Unless that water landing is on a rain covered runway.
I'm sure it does, although I never landed gear up. Being older and forgetful I now fly a fixed gear. Gear down for takeoff, cruise, and landing(land or water). Problem solved.
As reported in our local newspaper, an old pilot landed his Republic SeaBee gear-up. Also reported, New Hampshire mechanics replaced his brass (!) keel plate, and sent him on his way. Quote from SeaBee site: "Interestingly, a gear-up landing on concrete shaves about one-thirty-second of an inch off the keel".
Sounds about right.. How about the ERJ-145 years ago, Gear Handle down, 3 Green, but had a "Gear Handle Disagree" Message. Touched down on the flaps and belly and did a successful go around. Cycled the gear and made a good successful landing.

Check out Boston Login American Airlines:

The Fault was traced to faulty firmware in the PSEU (Proximity Switching Unit). Firmware update no fix, Crew letter at the time was anytime they got the message to cycle the gear and do a fly-by to confirm gear was down. I am not sure if they have gotten a permanent fix, but I have not heard of this issue in a very very long time.

This Proves gear up Touch And Goes are possible, but Highly not recommended! :)
sparkie624, you are very astute. I was teaching the ERJ-145 in class at that time but not with that airline and remember it well. I was with Republic (Chautauqua). I used the event as a class example to analyze. Republic also had an ERJ-170 whose nose gear would not deploy at KIAD (Dulles). The gear handle would not come up on takeoff at KIAH (Houston), so the procedure was to push the override button to get the handle up. Well, the gear retracted but caused the nose gear to retract into the wheel well in a cocked position and it became stuck there. The crew did a perfect landing without the nose wheel at Dulles and evacuated on the runway. The tail was so high, passengers came down the slide like greased pigs. The first one off actually jumped and hit the slide halfway down. These electrical sensors (proximity sensors) and the associated software have a tendency to not perform.
sparkie624 -1
There are other things not to forget... I know one old fellow on a Twin Comanche on take off roll for a charter... Both engines failed right before rotation... Forgot to fuel the a/c before departing! Maybe verifying fuel should be a required checklist item before take off :)
Fuel is part of flight planning and preflight. Lots of gotchas in aviation. I remember discussing with Preacher the possible causes for the crash of the twin near my house here in western Ky. We were all wrong. It was a fuel gotcha. Both engines pulling from same tank from takeoff. Plenty of fuel in other tank.
I not only blame the mechanics for this, but also the flight crew. This was obviously a morning flight or a flight that just came out of the hangar... What happened to the Flight Crew Walk Around. Those pins are attached to Very long red flags!

I have seen this way too many times. I stopped a plane during push back because I saw red flags... Removed them and let the crew continue on its way... NO DELAY!

These things will happen.. We all (Mechanics and Crew) should look more closely. If you are going to fly the plane you should at least look for weird flags hanging from planes from different locations.... I saw a captain start an engine with the from cover in and wrote it up for a Hot start, Saw another start one up with the intake cover installed and it sucked it into the compressor section and got a hung start... There is no reason for this kind of stuff. Saw a Dash 8 take off out of Heavy Check. Rig pin was still installed in aileron controls. Got off the ground. Quick thinking crew disconnected the yolks and the FO landed it with the flight spoilers (Captains controlled the aileron, FO's controlled the Flight Spoilers... There is no acceptable reason not to do a flight control check (especially coming out of a hangar, and most certainly coming out of Heavy Maintenance where the planes guts were opened up for 6 weeks. A flight control check should be done prior to rolling down the runway EVERY time and it is not like it is a 2 hour task to complete.

We all need to be more safe.. Me, You, Everyone.... Our company policy for Rig and gear pins is that there is a Logbook entry made at time of pin install, signed off by a mechanic and RII (Required Inspection Item) by an inspector to insure the pin's have been removed....
I also saw one where the covers were not installed in the engine intake... Crew wrote up no rotation on N1 or N2 on both engines. Mechanic arrived and advised that there was so much snow and ice in the intake that it would not allow the engine to spool... Snow blew into the intake and seized the core or the engine. Took 2 hours each with a Herman Nelson Heater (http://www.aviationpros.com/product/10160602/aerotech-herman-nelson-international-inc-herman-nelson-gas-or-diesel-poratable-heaters) in Minot, ND...

My big question is not why they ground crew did not install the engine covers, but why did the crew not notice so much snow in the intake that you could not see the intake? Walk arounds are for a reason, and a good reason... If any of you are guilty of this, I would highly suggest start doing a better job.. Start looking at the plane as you approach it and from every different angle. As a passenger in the past I once saw a flag hanging below a leading edge device. I notified the captain and he was surprised as we were only about 10 minutes from push back... Next I saw 2 things...

1.) Mechanic removing Leading Edge device on a cruger flap that would have prevented on device from retracting (they were already configured for take off... What would have happened at altitude and went to retract it! I think you know the answer to that. You could not have gotten the others down in time if you had know what happened..

2.) The FO was out doing another more through preflight inspection... HMM!

Just saying everyone... Always keep your eye's open and look for something that is not there. Like I pointed out before during push back the tug operator notice feathers sticking out of a leading edge that the crew missed on walk around... It is up to all of us who know anything about a/c to look and mention something when we see something that doesn't look right. I would rather take a delay or cancel that to put an unairworthy plane in the air. Gear pins are not killers... but pins in flight controls, Parts being stuck where they are not supposed to be are!
ThanX for the knowledge.
As per your view crew is ALSO to blame.
So it seems that the authorities acted in haste & found an easy scapegoat in these engineers/mechanics, which is not sound management.
That happens more often than not.... The bigger problem is that the companies are more interested in punishing the person who caused the problem and not really fixing a bigger problem.
Again going for quick fix is poor management practice prone to distrous results on mid to long term basis.
My half cent.
This is what happens when you upset sparkie. He starts ranting harshly. But I love his way of thinking so it's all good for me.
LOL.... Just stating the facts... I really didn't have to stop there! I have more examples... :)
I'm aware lol.
Let sparkie go. I don't think he is too harsh. Give him some room. I love it! Pilots need to know more about their airplane and company procedures besides how to read and follow a checklist. I once walked up the stairs into my aircraft and felt a hot air blast coming OUT of a NACA vent. This isn't right. This was the left pack and should have been pulling air in. I wrote it up in the maintenance log. Sure enough, a flapper valve had failed and air was being directed the wrong way. In the air, it was OK but on the ground it was not.

So we're ready to push back at KPHL. The tug is hooked up. Here we go. The tug stops and we just keep going!! The pin in the nose strut was never installed. How were we to know? You have to trust other workers to do their job. I lightly used the brakes to stop. I didn't want the tail to go down Everything was OK. This was not the first time either. Luckily there was no aircraft behind us.
Memories! Years ago, a gentleman landed his Republic Seabee on an asphault runway in the middle of the summer at Flying Cloud Airport in MSP. No damage to the Seabee, but the runway had to be closed until the airport maintenance staff could repair the groove that the Seabee's keel had cut into the hot asphault.
What about the equally "forgetful" pilots who did not check that the pins were in the ground crew's hands and are showing to them before their taxi ? Air India has many procedures that create dangers to the flights.
viva la pilots
its just poor work ethic and the wrong person/people in the job. Yes I know thats not politically correct.
sparkie624 -1
Political Correctness is one big problem in our country and the world and that needs to go! Causing more harm than good.
Final responsibility for completion of the preflight lies with the Captain. These hapless "engineers" are scapegoats. The captain can delegate the external preflight to the f/o if he wishes - it says so right in the AFM - but the captain is responsible to ensure the airplane is ready. Obviously, he was able to pass the blame off in this case, but all real professional airmen are laughing and pointing fingers and calling him an idiot behind his back. Fortunately, no one got hurt. I wonder if he had to do an overweight landing as well. At least he has to accept that responsibility.
I agree and disagree... It is not just the Captain, it is all of us Flight Crews, Mechanics, and anyone including ground service to keep our eye's open to things that just don't look right. I have had more than one item pointed out to me as a mechanic by crews and ground personnel that were perfectly fine, but at least that asked... The Mechanics/engineers were responsible, but so was the crew. they all should have shared in the discipline.
sparkie624 and George R Townsend you both have noble ideals. On this board you are "preaching to the choir". Your work and mine have been directed at the safest possible airline system on the planet. As the Air Safety Chairman (ALPA) for my airline, I worked at getting every aspect of safety employed at the airline. This often was juxtaposed with profit. The airline will say they are doing everything necessary to comply with regulations but bottom line is making $$$. There has to be a happy medium. Who really is in charge? THE CAPTAIN who is the final say as to the flight. I also taught Captain Upgrade. This is a transition from defaulting to the left seat to BECOMING THE LEFT SEAT. You now have to make the final decisions but you also have to rely on others to do their job.
s20609 2
I don't recall meeting ground personnel with this title. Is the use of 'Engineers' correct? They could be called 'Vice President' which does not alleviate the pilot responsibilities.
Blame is easy but learning from human error is based on the pressures and distracts at that time.
"Engineering" is a term frequently used outside of the US to describe what Americans typically refer to as mechanics.
I know they call them engineers, but I do not agree with the term... This leans a believe that they can design and alter the a/c without guidance and in this case that is not appropriate... Just my opinion. We are Mechanics and or Technicians... Not engineers IMHO
Don't know about outside of the US but "engineer" is overused and completely bull sh*t here in the US. Sparkie, I want you to work on my airplane and sign it off as airworthy. I'll trust you.
You never had an Engineer at the Holiday Inn replace the TV remote's battery?
Some of the engineers I have meet I wouldn't let them change the batteries in my remotes... UGH... I want them to work after the batteries are replaced :)
Amen sparkie.
Nope they just make you the customer do it for them.
Great comment!
HI has some great engineers-especially the ones that wear dresses and speak Spanish.
Mechanics or technicians may be a nomenclature for a particular trade. Engineer is one who has obtained Bachelor's degree in any discipline of Engineering, in aviation it can be Aeronautical Engineering.
In some places the head of engineering may be referred to as VP (XXXXX Engineering) or Gen. Manager ( XXXXX Engineering) elsewhere the term may be conventional Chief Engineer ( XXXX Engineering).
Similarly the staring level nomenclature can be foreman or junior engineer or technical assistant.
Nomenclatures can vary internationally.
It's futile to make an argument out of it.
BTW is the head of all mechanics of an airline in USA called VP (Mechanics) ?
No.... But being in it as long as I have there are different levels... I have been a Maintenance Controller of which is still a mechanic class, more like an upper classman you may say... Many years of experience and then directing others... Many time telling others over the phone what and how to do something. For many it is hard to paint a picture for someone to do a job that they have never done and yet get them the information to do it confidently and safely.... I recently moved to being a short term planner meaning when a crew breaks something, I arrange to have it Trouble Shot and fixed and can many time trouble shoot it from the desk, order the parts and get it fixed in an expeditious manner!
So call a rose by another name ....
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
linbb 0
Not for you to worry about just like other terms for other things it varies from country to country. Its always been that way and as you get around more and read you will find that very true.
Indeed this is true that the terms vary. But the variation in terminology does lead to confusion when conversing with counterparts in other countries. That is, indeed, something to worry about. Or at least be mindful of.
I wonder how much relevant is whether they are engineers or mechanics, if it bolsters ego of some, ok they are mechanics, including those of are head of "mechanics" department at Boeing or Airbus etc., want to address them as Chief Mechanic, fine. Even the head of design department may be referred to as some kind of mechanic, the person chiefly responsible for creating a bundle of metal which is capable of flying for pilots to fly. Let it suit the pilots' fraternity
But the issue here WAS NOT of mechanic vs engineer.
mike SUT 1
Simple aircraft logbook by maintenance "gear pins installed" by maintenance could have prevented this from occurring....just in case the person (Captain or FO) doing the walkaround missed the pins installed. My airline (Northwest (now Delta) does this. Gear pins can be missed if it is in the nose gear well, and sometimes on the mains IF the remove before flight tag has been blown upward into the actuating gear. Seen it on Military aircraft and airliners alike. Their not always BRIGHT red either, dirt and oil covered etc. NWA's policy was if the gear pins were installed and discovered on the walkaround, the pilot had to see them removed before getting back on the plane. AND the logbook signed off as "removed" by maintenance. Prevents a lot of mistakes by everyone involved.
when we used to pull pins we had to show them to the flight crew so he could see all three
So many commentors saying "What's the big deal?!?"
If the gear pins were left in, what else could these knuckleheads have neglected?
Thank God you didn't have family on this flight, and it wasn't an elevator pin.
My experience was that the Flight Engineer would pull all 3 gear pins during his preflight and stow them in a pouch in the cockpit, so that we had them onboard should we have to make an unscheduled landing. The pushback crew carried their own nosegear pin, which they inserted prior to connecting the towbar for pushback. That pin and its flag was then shown to the Captain prior to taxi, who would acknowledge with a "thumbs up."
Yes, we carried all our pins and it was in the checklist. Just as you said, you might need them at a diversion airport. Pins were never installed on a routine day.
I guess the "remove before flight" flags are not big enough huh?
Nah.... They are only a recommendation!
A lot of comments here. Pretty simple stuff: after push back, ground to cockpit - brakes set/pins removed/steering link connected.....have a great day. Unplug and walk away.
That's what we did in the 80's when I worked for CO on EWR's ramp, wave the pin with the flag, and away they went...
That is not the same pins. The one you waved was the bypass pin for steering. The one on this flight were gear pins
acmi 1
you show the captain the red flag that is attached to the pin when you pull it after push-back...SOP anywhere I have worked
Don't underestimate the degradation in OEI climb performance if this flight had been unlucky enough to also suffer an engine failure (after V1) during departure. The aircraft's single engine climb capability through the segments is based on being able to retract the landing gear.
Walkaround? Preflight? All pins in the cockpit? Umm, what's missing here. I don't have all the pins. What are those red things hanging down from our landing gear? Gear won't raise after takeoff---good. Now we don't have to worry when they don't come down. Our maintenance log or "can" had to have an entry if the pins were installed and another when they were removed. As pilots, we never messed with the gear pins.
In my time the PIC was supposed to be shown the pins and attached ribbons befor taxying........As for landing gears uo I remember a check pilot (a damn good one....) that had switched off the gear not down that bothered him during low passes on a test flight. He forgot it and landed gears up......and he was complimented for a perfect emergency landing! The aircraft (Caravelle) was repaired and kept flying for years.....
What happened to showing all safety pins, especially land gear pins, to the pilot BEFORE the a/c leaves the ramp area?
We took the pins with us. That way, if we diverted to a non company airport, we had our own. In a normal day, pins are never inserted between flights.
The pin that is shown to the flight crew after pushback is a nose gear steering bypass pin. It Prevents the nose wheel from being operated in the cockpit when inserted. You wouldn't want the flight crew to be able to move the tiller with the tug and tow bar attached. The landing gear pins they talk about in this story are carried onboard the aircraft themselves. Sometimes, depending on the aircraft, they are not even a pin but more of a sleeve. Most airlines require a aircraft logbook entry made to show "gear pins installed" after doing so. Could be why the "engineers" are being hung out to dry. Still doesn't resolve the flight crew from noticing on preflight however
I don't where you got this information Sam but American Airlines Were shown all the pins after pushback and none are carried in the aircraft.And I have never heard of a so called "sleeve" as a PIN. Working both military and civilian aircraft for over 47 years I have all ways used STEEL PINS as locking devises in the wheel wells.
Different airlines, different procedures I suppose. We are still talking after two different pins though. On the 747, a nose gear steering bypass pin is installed at pushback which unlocks the tiller from the nose wheel. that is the only pin that is shown to the flight crew after completion of the pushback. It signifies visually to the flight crew that the push back is complete and steering is returned to the flight crew. It is possible that a nose gear pin could still be installed preventing retraction of that particular gear. The wing gear of a 747 uses a sleeve type mechanism around the retract cylinders should pinning of the gear be necessary. Body gear uses a conventional steel pin as you describe.

I know because we check for these pins onboard at every preflight. If there's not five there then you investigate why.
LOL.. I have seen plenty of Broken Shear Pins over the years from crews pressurizing the nose wheel steering.... The Pin is not to prevent the flight crew from Turning the Nose Wheel, but rather to prevent Hydraulic Pressure from preventing it from turning during push back. If the Pin is not in then the push back tug cannot rotate the nose gear!
Sam Lipscomb said it correctly. Different airlines, aircraft and procedures. In the seven types I have, the gear pins were only inserted if they were towed without any hydraulic pressure or work had to be done at the gate. In a routine day, the pins were never used. Pins were inserted in the "over center" downlock brace which has to be pulled out of the over center position before the gear will retract. This is the first action when the handle is moved up in the cockpit. This brace has little force on it and only acts as prevention of unintended raising. If the pin is installed, the very small hydraulic cylinder that unlocks it, can't and the gear will not retract. I have heard of the sleeve protection but that only fights the 3000# hydraulic pressure in the cylinder.
Basically and Generically you are correct.... It is slightly more complex that than. The small locking actuator that your are referring to is just one step of many that is controlling a Sequence Valve. If you inhib the Sequence Valve the gear cannot retract. If you try to manually unlock and move the gear by hand, you cannot because of the pin.
Yes, sparkie624 you are generically correct. A whole sequence has to work. First, the gear handle has to be moved to the up position which does lots of things. The over center brace has to be pulled. The hydraulic fluid in the return lines has to be opened to allow fluid to be returned to the reservoir as the gear retracts. If not, you have a hydraulic block. The "sequence or shuttle valve" does all this in one motion. If it fails, the gear will not retract. To lower the gear, if lowering the gear handle fails or loss of hydraulic pressure, there is a manual method to do the same thing. The uplocks are released. The shuttle valve opens the hydraulic return lines and the gear either falls by gravity or is helped by any remaining hydraulic pressure.
Allegiant Trainees in India picking up pointers
Agreed. India is NOT the United States.
2 points:

1-) Agree with David Barnes 100% as this happens "all the time". The hubbub can be attributed to the source of the article (Times of India). General media are poor at best in reporting aviation events and some are worst than others.

2-) Why was this "Dog Bights Man" story even picked up by FlightAware?
Without any malice towards MSM , my limited experience says, they're LEAST qualified, generally, to report on professionally specialised subjects, unless there is a "press release" issued by the professional agency.
I'm sure elsewhere on globe things may be about the same because Indian counter parts learn from their western senior brethren !
no peril! the only safety issue is with gear down your speed is limited
Gentlemen, As a retired airline pilot, you are all forgetting one very important fact; engine failure on take off where it is necessary to "clean up" the aircraft as soon as possible (reduce drag to a minimum) to ensure that the aircraft can perform as designed with an engine out. Hence, forgetting to remove the landing gear pins has the potential to be a very serious problem!!
Ever been to India or Pakistan ? This kind of indifference culls the population...life is cheap elsewhere in the world....
I’ve never been easy on engineers involved in maintenance, fabrication & manufacturing/assembly, in that order.
And if the equipment involved is of sensitive nature the onus increase manifold.
My Professor, later Principal, of Electrical Engineering, often used to remind us, the budding engineers, of our responsibility by narrating a humorous one-liner,
“Mistakes of Doctors get buried while those of Engineers stay above, so students beware!”
Engineers involved in maintenance of a/c have far greater responsibility, comparatively, than those who fabricate and assemble them. Because latter ones are always “test-flighted” before being permitted for regular use, but not the former type.
Here too was one such case of former type.
Mere ‘grounding’ is not enough of a reprimand, IMHO.
The least that should be done is that they lose one year of seniority if not more.
joel wiley -2
Do things like this happen in the USA?

Not forgetting the pins, but the incident reaching the general media and getting reported to the aviation authorities. An accident is the final link in a chain of errors and events and tends to get more press than when the chain is interrupted early.

Does the FAA, NTSB, or other agency maintain stats on these type of mistakes? If not, should they, or would that be an example of government over-regulation?
Very much so.. .Note my post!


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