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Boeing 737 Pops Its Reversers Prior to Touchdown–But Why?

It’s not a recommended procedure. Don’t do it.

Tough times call for drastic measures.  We came across this video of a RyanAir 737-800 struggling to land at London Stansted Airport during Winter Storm Doris.

In the video, you can see the pilot struggling with both a crosswind and gusty winds.  On the approach, the pilot appears to flare but then float as he or she was caught in a gust.  The pilot then surprisingly deploys the thrust reversers and plants the plane on the ground. That’s not normal.

What’s wrong with landing this way?

Deploying the thrust reversers prior to touchdown isn’t a very smart way to fly the plane.  A good pilot should always be ready to go around.  It’s much safer to attempt a second landing than to try to salvage a bad one.  In this case, the pilot took advantage of 737 logic that allows the thrust reverser to deploy if the radar altimeter senses less than 10ft of altitude.  The landing was relatively uneventful and the pilot and those on board were no worse for the wear.

But what if the gust of wind that he or she corrected for didn’t dissipate but instead grew stronger?  By deploying the TRs, the pilot had no choice but to commit to the landing.  The TRs would take way too long to stow to accomplish a safe go around in a majority of cases. TR deployment equals total and full commitment to land…full stop.

The video was filmed by ElliotL- CBGSpotterHD.  Elliot is an avgeek and spotter with some brilliant videos.  Be sure to check out his other work.

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