Those Who Have and Those Who Won’t

True, most gear-up landings don’t cause great injury or damage to the airplane, but it can still take months (and tens of thousands of dollars) to fix the plane — and the cost does *not* go away. The mishap will have a lasting effect on the resale price of the aircraft and the pilot’s insurance premiums. The sad truth is that mechanically induced gear-ups are very, very few in number. Translation: It’s usually the pilot’s fault. Therefore, almost all gear-up landings are preventable if you establish procedures and follow them consistently.

IFR Pilots: Always EXTEND THE LANDING GEAR AT THE FINAL APPROACH FIX (FAF) inbound. If you need a greater rate of descent, reduce power *after* gear extension.


ALL Pilots: NEVER GO BELOW YOUR ‘GEA’ WITH THE GEAR UP. Compute a gear extension altitude (GEA) for each arrival. Your GEA should be 1000ft above the field elevation at your destination. Use the same GEA *every time* you fly and write it down next to the destination airport’s arrival frequencies.

Winning Mentality: It’s the landing gear, *not* a power reduction, that initiates final descent. Why: In most airplanes, gear extension will create nearly the perfect rate of descent for an Instrument Landing System (ILS) glideslope — with no change in trim or airspeed. So, VFR or IFR, the drag created by gear extension produces a textbook final descent.

Make sure the gear is down and locked. Begin checking when you throw the gear lever down…

  • Listen to the gear motor or pump, and the sound the wind makes.
  • Observe the proper effects of the gear on attitude and airspeed.
  • Check the indicating systems as soon as possible after gear extension.
  • Kill the approach (go around) if anything ‘sounds,’ ‘feels’ or ‘indicates’ abnormally.
  • Expect a problem. This will promote a vigilant mentality — and cater to your hero complex…
  • Don’t depend on alarms to protect you from a gear-up landing. Accident reports are full of stories about people who were saturated with other tasks and simply didn’t notice warnings.

Bottom Line: Landing gear -up is the ultimate ‘failure to follow standard procedures’ accident. ESTABLISH PROCEDURES and DO THINGS THE SAME WAY EVERY TIME YOU FLY.