Gear Collapse Delays ME-262

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Builders of a modern version of the ME-262 WWII jet fighter say their prototype will be back in the air in three to six months after a landing accident Jan. 18. Bob Hammer, the driving force behind the ME-262 project, said the left main gear collapsed after its first flight with the gear retracted. A double failure of the electric hydraulic pump and gear lock actuator led to the collapse. The plane skidded off the runway to settle nose-first in a ditch. Pilot Wolf Czaia was not hurt. Hammer said the plane suffered mainly sheet-metal damage and will be relatively easy to repair. Addressing the gear problem will take longer. "I'm going to re-engineer the whole landing gear system," he said. As for the double failure, "We could have handled either one on its own but not both of them together," said Hammer. He said the gear was cycled more than 100 times on the ground before the flight and it worked perfectly. The group recently announced it has sold two 262s, one for $2 million to a retired lawyer who plans to fly it in air shows, and another to a German museum. Three more will be sold.