Landing With No Wheels…It Doesn’t Get Any Smoother

This past Tuesday a possible disaster was turned into smooth landing as LOT Polish Boeing 767-35D/ER, Flight 16, from Newark (EWR) to Warsaw (WAW), landed at Warsaw Chopin Airport with no landing gear.

 

LOT Polish Flight 16 pushed off its gate at Newark Liberty Airport two minutes ahead of schedule on the 31st of October, at 11:53pm EST and was wheels-up for Warsaw, Poland, at 12:20am on the 1st of November … however when the wheels went up they were not to come down again.

 

Shortly after take off the LOT Polish flight crew noted a hydraulic problem with their Boeing 767-35D/ER (SP-LPC), and the decision was made to continue the 4,278 mile flight as the aircraft was flying without problems and the aircraft needed to burn off its fuel as to not land heavy.

 

As LOT Flight 16 approached Warsaw the crew became aware that none of their landing gear would not down and the airport spend an hour preparing for the arrival of the aircraft, with LOT Flight 16 flew erratic patterns in the skies over Poland to continue to burn off fuel.

 

At 2:38pm CET, 63 minutes later than the flight’s scheduled arrival time, the Captain of LOT Polish Flight 16 put his aircraft down on Runway 33 in the smoothest landing passengers could expect … even if the wheels were down. The aircraft was intact, engines remained on the wings, no fatalities and a single small friction fire was extinguished almost immediately.

 

So how smooth was this landing?   Watch for yourself in the two videos below. The first video if the aircraft landing as seen by outside observers, the second video was shot inside the cabin and is unbelievable.

 

How smooth was the landing for the aircraft itself? The 14.5 year old aircraft that first flew on the 5th of May 1997 and was delivered to LOT Polish on the 15th of May 1997, is likely to be repaired and return to service … however its two GE CF6-80CB6 engines will need to be replaced.

 

Happy Flying!

 

@flyingwithfish

 

 

Comments

  1. Even though everything went well they should have dumped the fuel and turned back. If your plane isn’t working right you get out of the sky and get it fixed. Trying to limp it home like you can do with a car is not acceptable in my eyes. Who knows when this problem might lead to something else failing.

  2. Rob,

    As I understand it, the decision to continue to fly to Warsaw was made by both the Captain and the Company. Unless you were in the cockpit and in LOT’s Ops office, you are not privy to the information available to the flight crew and the company’s Ops team.

    I am not judging the decision to continue to the flight as I am not a pilot, an engineer a mechanic or an expert on the Boeing 767. Even if I was, I still wouldn’t have all the info about this situation. Are you?

    Happy Flying!

    -Fish

  3. Peter,

    The Iran Air Boeing 727-286/Adv (EP-IRR) that landing without nose gear at Mehrabad Airport, on the 18th of October is different than the LOT Polish 763. The 727 was able to keep its nose up on its main gear until it gently put its nose down. The Iran Air flight crew did a fantastic job of landing that bird, absolutely stellar! I had written about it on Twitter, but obviously I follow these thing, Iran Air in particular, more than most media.

    The LOT Flight 16 landing however is spectacular in how the plane landed with no gear at all. Even the video shot inside the cabin shows how smoothly the plane landed.

    Both flight deck crews did outstanding jobs in landing their Boeing birds without gear under different circumstances. These videos should remind people that when they think a pilot’s job is easy … their job isn’t the auto pilot at 38,000 feet for long boring stretches, it is the take offs and landings. Even when everything goes right there is danger everywhere and when things go wrong they have everyone’s lives in their hands.

    Happy Flying!

    -Fish

  4. Rob: Are you certain that the type of 767 in question can dump fuel?

    As an aside: the WAW airport was closed through November 2, causing big backups of undeparted passengers(the plane stopped at the intersection of two – and only two – runways at WAW) and on the morning of November 3 it was fogged out to the point that some captains decided not to land at all… The morning LH flight from FRA chickened out (another LH plane landed shortly after) and I was scheduled to fly to FRA on that plane and then on to DTW but ended up on a later LH flight to FRA and then on to IAD on UA instead.
    Cpt. Wrona who flew the plane (also a glider pilot, which has probably helped…) is now a national hero in his country but there are already some doubts about the entire incident: after lifting the plane and placing it on supports, the crew was able to immediatelly “emergency drop” (which the crew reported as not functioning in flight) the wheels and tow the plane away. Too early for conclusions, though.

  5. I have a question about the practice of having passengers put their heads between their knees during a crash landing. It seems to me that if the seats came loose from the floor that then passengers’ heads would be driven against the seat in front, risking neck and spinal injuries. I’m sure someone must have decided this is the best practice, but can anyone point to some studies analyzing the best passenger posture during crash landings?

  6. This is incredeble 🙂 Good Polish captain. The Iran Air Boeing 727-286/Adv (EP-IRR) that landing without nose gear at Mehrabad Airport, on the 18th of October is different than the LOT Polish 763.

  7. Wrona is good captain.Wrona who flew the plane (also a glider pilot, which has probably helped…) is now a national hero in his country but there are already some doubts about the entire incident: after lifting the plane and placing it on supports, the crew was able to immediatelly “emergency drop” (which the crew reported as not functioning in flight) the wheels and tow the plane away. Too early for conclusions, though.

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