FedEx Boeing 757 Makes Successful No-Gear Landing In Chattanooga, Tennessee

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A FedEx Boeing 757 freighter made a successful no-gear landing at Chattanooga (Tennessee) Metropolitan Airport (KCHA) late Wednesday night (Oct. 4). The three-person crew evacuated without injury after the aircraft skidded down the runway, streaming sparks, and came to rest on a grass overrun. Despite the sparks, there was no post-crash fire.

According to an official FedEx statement, “FedEx Express Flight 1376 from Chattanooga to Memphis experienced an issue just after takeoff on Wednesday evening. Our crew is safe and any additional questions should be referred to the NTSB.”

According to audiotapes of the radio traffic with Chattanooga Approach Control (available here from LiveATC), the crew of Flight 1376 reported shortly after takeoff that it was returning to the airport due to a “flight control issue” and advised they were not declaring an emergency at that time and did not anticipate the need for assistance.

But as the flight maneuvered for an ILS approach to Runway 20, they said they needed to break off the approach due to an unsafe gear indication. Later, the crew advised ATC they would not be able to taxi clear of the runway after landing due to “no steering available,” suggesting they would need a tug to retrieve the aircraft. They then declared an emergency, reporting there were three souls on board and “about an hour and a half” of fuel.

When the controller asked if the emergency was due to an unsafe gear indication, the crew advised they were activating an “alternate gear extension,” which in the 757 involves a separate battery-operated hydraulic power pack (suggesting that the overriding issue was with the main hydraulic system).

The FedEx crew asked for a low pass over the runway and for ground observers to advise if the gear was extended. Observers in the tower and on the ground said they could not see the gear extended, and the crew said they were going to perform a no-gear landing. ATC told them they would have emergency vehicles standing by.

After the successful—if dramatic—landing, the airport was closed for several hours. The aircraft came to rest on airport property. There were no injuries to the crew or anyone on the ground.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if it crossed their minds to divert. I’m sure it did. BNA has an 11,000+’ runway, CHA’s longest is only 7,400’. Not trying to throw shade on the success of this accident, just wondering.

    • They were talking to their company so someone made the decision to return to CHA. Hopefully with the crew’s concurrence.

    • Aside from the benefits of landing at your “home” airport, which airport do you want to shut down for hours?

      • Never make an emergency more complex.

        Worried about an airport shut down? That is not something needed in the brain computing loop nor does it advance a better outcome. That’s not to say that an alternate might be more advantageous, but an “airport shut down” is not a factor in that decision making process.

        The pilot advised of “flight control issues”. With a runway below, helpful ATC on comm, no need to fly to an alternate when doing so could allow those “flight control issues” to grow into an uncontrollable aircraft.

    • One thing you DON’T need to worry about with a no-gear landing is going off the end of the runway. You stop VERY SHORT when aluminum glides along pavement. If it can stop in 7400′ with wheels, no problem stopping in that distance without them.

    • With 1.5 hours of fuel they must not have been too heavily loaded, so the hydraulic issue was more important that a leisurely trip to somewhere else.

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