ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 202885
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Narrative:The flight departed from London-Gatwick at 14:34 hrs for Sofia, Bulgaria, with an estimated flight time of 2 hours 40 minutes. One minute after the aircraft was airborne ATC advised the crew that they had lost a wheel on departure. The aircraft was given a radar heading and clearance to climb to maintain 3,000 ft initially and was subsequently re-cleared to climb to 6,000 ft and to hold at the nearby Mayfield VOR.
|Saturday 15 January 2005
|Thomas Cook Airlines
|Year of manufacture:
|Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 184
|London-Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK) -
| Take off
|Passenger - Scheduled
|London-Gatwick Airport (LGW)
|Sofia-Vrazhdebna Airport (SOF/LBSF)
| Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
Ten minutes later ATC informed the crew that it had been confirmed that it was a nose wheel that had detached from their aircraft. With the aircraft now in the holding pattern the crew considered the options available to them. They decided to reduce the fuel load until the aircraft was at its maximum landing weight of 64,500 kg and then to carry out a landing. At first, following consultation with their company operations and engineering departments, the crew planned to divert the flight to Manchester Airport. However, on receipt of an unfavourable weather report from Manchester they decided to remain at Gatwick and complete a landing in daylight in the better weather conditions available there.
The crew, uncertain of the reason for the loss of the wheel and unable to ascertain the integrity of the nose landing gear, reviewed all the various possible consequences of making a landing. They decided to plan for the worst case, which was the nose landing gear collapsing on landing. There were no Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) messages or any other indications of a failure displayed so they reviewed the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) and the Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM) looking for any procedure related to the unusual configuration of their aircraft. They eventually decided to apply the ‘LDG WITH ABNORMAL L/G’ procedure from the QRH. They briefed the cabin crew for an emergency landing and informed the passengers of the nature of the problem.
Although the crew now knew that they had lost one nose wheel, in order to confirm the existing condition of the nose landing gear they arranged with ATC to carry out a low approach and go-around. This was to allow company engineering personnel, positioned near the threshold of runway 08R, to make a visual inspection of the landing gear. At 15:57 hrs a flypast was carried out down to 200 ft agl, following which a normal go-around was flown but with the landing gear remaining down.
After the flypast, engineering personnel advised the crew that the left nose wheel was missing but that the right nose wheel was in place.
The aircraft returned to the hold and following a further review of the QRH and the FCOM the crew decided that they were ready to make an approach. A normal approach was completed until just before touchdown when the first officer shut down both engines, as the crew had pre-planned, in accordance with the QRH procedure.
A gentle touchdown followed at 135 kt with an attendant pitch attitude of 6º. The commander applied the brakes, being careful not to brake too hard since the anti-skid system was not available, and kept the aircraft rolling straight along the runway. The nose gear touched down normally. The commander experienced some difficulty in maintaining directional control, needing to brake harder on the right side to keep straight. One right main gear tyre burst but the aircraft maintained the runway centreline until just before coming to a stop, when the nose swung left through approximately 30º. The aircraft stopped having used some 2,300 m of the available runway length.
After the aircraft came to a stop the commander consulted with the Airport Fire Service (AFS) as to the condition of the aircraft and decided that a passenger evacuation would not be necessary. A wheel jack and spare nose wheel were brought out to the aircraft and once they were positioned and fitted the aircraft was considered to be secure. Steps were brought out and the passengers disembarked normally.
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