The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Department of Transport has issued its final report into an incident at Shannon Airport in 2019 when the nose gear of light aircraft collapsed after landing.
On December 2nd 2019, during the landing on Runway 24 at Shannon Airport, the nose landing gear of the Piper PA23 aircraft collapsed, causing the aircraft’s two propellers to strike the runway. The aircraft came to rest on the left side of the runway. The Pilot, who was the sole occupant, was uninjured and exited the aircraft safely.
The AAIU report states: “The aircraft took-off from EIKY (Kerry) at approximately 15.52 hrs and routed back towards EINN. The Pilot reported that he extended the landing gear during the approach to Runway (RWY) 24 at Shannon and that all three green gear-down indication lights illuminated. He stated that he could see the nose landing gear using the viewing mirror attached to the inboard cowling on the left engine.
The Pilot said that when the aircraft was at an altitude of approximately 700 ft, the indication light for the nose landing gear started to flicker. He said he continued with the approach, as he considered that the indications were the same as those he had observed on the aircraft’s previous flight and that the aircraft had landed normally following that flight. The Pilot did not recall if the light came on steady prior to the landing at Shannon.
The Pilot stated that as the aircraft was crossing the runway threshold, at a speed of approximately 95 knots (kts) and with the flaps extended, he reduced the engine power for landing. He said the aircraft’s red landing gear warning light illuminated and the aural alert sounded, indicating that all landing gears were not down and correctly locked.
The Pilot reported that at that stage the aircraft’s main wheels were on the runway and that it was ‘too late to go around’ (i.e. abort the landing). The Pilot said that he felt the nose landing gear collapsing and that he tried to keep the nose up by pulling back on the aircraft’s control column. The nose of the aircraft dropped and the propellers struck the runway. The aircraft came to rest on the left side of the runway at approximately 16.24.
The Pilot, who was the sole occupant, was uninjured and exited the aircraft normally. There was no fire. The Airport Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene, and as a precaution, covered the aircraft and the adjacent runway surface in a blanket of fire-retardant foam.
The investigation determined the probable cause of the accident to be that “the nose landing gear was not locked in the down position at the time of landing.”
A number of Contributory Cause were also cited including: “Free play in the nose landing gear down-lock latch hook pivot, combined with anomalies within the powerpak and/or air in the hydraulic system, were the most likely technical factors in the occurrence.”
The report also states: “The flickering of the nose landing gear down indication light on the previous flight, prior to a successful landing, may have adversely affected the Pilot’s trust in the landing gear indication system.
The flickering of the nose landing gear down indication light on the previous flight was not reported to the Operator prior to the occurrence flight.”
The report does not sustain any safety recommendations.