Air India A320neo Crew Forgets To Raise The Gear, Lands Safely Short Of Destination

Photo courtesy of Airbus

How does this even happen?

Two Air India Airlines pilots have been grounded for forgetting to retract the landing gear on their spanking-new Airbus A320neo and flying 693 miles (1,115 kilometers) from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) in Kolkata in eastern India to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport / Sonegaon Air Force Base (NAG) at Nagpur with the gear extended on Saturday July 22nd 2017. The pilots didn’t put it together that the gear was in the wind when they were unable to climb higher than 24,000 feet (7,315 meters), which is about 12,000 feet (3,657 meters) lower than their usual assigned altitude of 36,000 feet (10,972 meters). They didn’t figure it out when their jet wouldn’t fly faster than 230 knots (264 miles per hour or 426 kilometers per hour) either.

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The Air India A320neo, as flight 676, was supposed to fly from CCU all the way to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai on the western coast of India- essentially a cross-India trip. But the higher than normal fuel consumption due to the added drag of the extended landing gear used up fuel a lot faster than normal. They made it roughly 2/3 of the way before they were forced to divert and land at NAG. It was only when preparing to land at NAG about an hour and a half into their flight that the flight crew realized their faux pas. There were 99 passengers aboard the flight.

Photo courtesy of Airbus

The pilots, both of whom were women according to the original report, expressed incredulity when they became aware of their error. One pilot was surprised that the cabin crew and passengers didn’t express concern about the added noise and vibration cause by flight with the landing gear extended. Speculation is that the pilots may have chalked the noise and vibration up to monsoon-caused turbulence aloft over India that day. But there is a post-takeoff checklist which was obviously poorly executed. This story was first reported by The Times of India.