Why Gear-up Landings Happen


Gear-up landings in retractable aircraft don’t happen every day, but they happen often enough that the accident file is rich with examples. In this AVweb Classic video first published in 2017, AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli analyzes some of the stats on gear ups and offers suggestion on how to avoid them.

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  1. Paul – here is an “unexpected” gear up landing. Despite the horn going two tone as the plane was about to touch down:

    YouTube for:


    Airplane crash altiport de Megève france altiport france landing without landing gear (HD)


  2. I had a gear up in an R182. The right gear failed to extend and was flapping in the breeze. My student and I flew around for about an hour discussing various options with the owner via radio. This included using the tow bar out the door and trying to hook the gear and pull it forward (in retrospect a real stupid idea over a populated are). We decided to land at our towered field before the sun set. Of course by then there was quite a crowd and a friend got some good video of the landing and all the fire trucks. When we left the aircraft I mentioned to my student that I should have had him video the landing from the inside. He said he though of that but didnt want to bother me. Damn that would have been a great video.

    It was actually quite a non-event. Except all the paperwork and interaction with the FAA and NTSB. The final case was failure to follow a Service Bulletin from years before which lead to the failure of the gear.

    And the owner put a grappling hook in the plane for future gear problems.

    • Yeah, the tow bar idea I’ve heard before. Of course, in retrospect, you’re risking falling out of the airplane to save the insurance company some money, not to mention losing the tow bar. I think it goes into the same category as shutting the engine down. I’m happy to let the insurer handle all of that, thanks.

  3. Several months ago I sent a suggestion to Foreflight to give us an gear down reminder option. They already remind us to get the weather. This wouldn’t be too hard to do and many of us are using the app. I am in the process of buying a fixed gear 182, instead of a retractable, for the fear that I would be someday be in your video collection. Nice work Paul.

  4. 80 gear up landings reported?
    There is no need to do so in 99% of the cases.
    The usual gear up landings in retractable aircraft are never reported nor cause any damage.
    Hint: pilots making amphibious water landings.

  5. Never had a gear up landing but have had several gear indication failures. Some have more than one way to confirm gear status but some don’t so other than the gear horn when power at idle you just cross your fingers everything works out. Paul makes a good point about landing on grass (off pavement) vs. paved runway. I watched a friend land his C182 after loss of nosewheel (just the strut sticking out) and he landed on the grass next to paved runway. As soon as the strut contacted the ground the plane flipped over pretty much trashing the entire plane. And yes shutting down and/or feathering the prop will reduce the amount of drag generated greatly extending any landing distance. Any pilot with C208 Caravan experience will know this since it is trained for on engine out procedures.