Probe into Irish cargo plane accident in East Midlands

Air accident investigators in Britain have launched a probe into an accident at East Midlands Airport that involved an Irish cargo aircraft.

A Boeing 737-400F cargo plane, operated by Dublin based Air Contractors Ltd, forced the closure of the airport yesterday morning after the jet was left crippled on the runway.

The two wheels from the left side undercarriage were found some distance from where the aircraft came to a stop.

The plane had previously operated in Australia for Qantas and Australian Airlines before it was converted into a freighter in 2012.

Flight BCS-1748 wasflying from Paris Charles de Gaulle to East Midlands Airport and was carrying 10 tonnes of general cargo. The aircraft is capable of carrying 17 tonnes.

The 39-year-old Dutch captain was confirmed to be very highly experienced with 4,500 flight hours while the Irish first officer, aged 28, has 3,900 flight hours. Only the flight crew were on board and no injuries occurred.

The accident happened shortly before 3am. It is understood that the aircraft landed normally, but part of the left-side landing gear appeared to fail after the jet had slowed down to exit the runway. The jet was about 100m from its turning off point when the incident occurred.

The AAIB confirmed it had deployed a team to East Midlands Airport to investigate the incident.

The aircraft was manufactured in 1990 and had only undergone a maintenance ‘A’ check at the weekend. It underwent its last scheduled heavy maintenance check in February 2013 and its next is due in early 2015.

Air Contractors said: “The Airline’s Emergency Response plan was activated and the Crisis Control Team ( was convened. The CCT is investigating the facts related to this incident and are liaising with all relevant authorities.”

The company apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers at the airport.

Safe landing

So can a plane land safely if it’s landing gear does not lower?

The answer is yes and it’s relatively straightforward, writes Claire O’Sullivan. According to aviation experts, if landing gear does not lower due to a mechanical or technical malfunction, a pilot can manually lower the equipment on some planes. If the latter doesn’t work, they can attempt a “belly landing”. Airports will generally spray a runway with fire suppressant foam in advance of such a landing in case jet fuel ignites.

Passengers will be asked to go into “brace position” and will be warned about safe evacuation, possibly via slides, once the plane comes to a stop. The pilot will attempt to land as slowly as possible while trying to keep the nose of the plane off the runway. “Belly landings” are among the most common aircraft accidents and rarely involve injuries.


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