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The Street
The Street
Veronika Bondarenko

‘What if the landing gear doesn’t come down?’: Pilot shows what they do in an emergency

What if there’s a crack in the plane window? What happens in cases of extreme turbulence? Which seat has the highest chances of surviving in the event of an air crash?

These are all questions that, for the 40% of travelers with some form of flying fear, come up when people outside aviation get to talk to a professional. Going under the @Flyman_Simon TikTok account, one pilot who keeps his full name private in order to not be associated with his employer was recently even asked what happens when the landing gear fails to descend.

Related: A Pilot Program Is Hoping Talking To One Will Ease Fear Of Flying

The landing gear is the technical term for the entire bottom part of the airplane used for takeoff, landing and any other time the plane is not in the sky. While mostly associated with the wheels that are used on the ground, it can also refer to the floats and skis for landing on water.


Replying to @Taylor what would happen if the landing gear or undercarriage didn’t come down for landing? What would the pilots do? Flyman Simon, an airline pilot explains! #emergency #emergencylanding #crash #crashlanding #fear #scared #fearofflying #qanda #undercarriage #landinggear #landing #approach #pilot #airliner #cabincrew #flightattendant #safetyfirst #safety #backup #holding #pilotlife

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‘They fly away and they tell Air Traffic that there is an issue…’

“Well, first things first, they would stay calm,” Simon explained to his 102,000 followers in response to the question on what pilots do when something goes wrong with the landing gear. “They’d put the power on, they would cancel the approach, they would fly away and they would tell Air Traffic that there is an issue with the landing gear. They’d have to take up a hold — which is a racetrack in the sky — that buys us time to sit and fault find.”

More Travel:

As every plane is required to have at least an hour’s more fuel than what is needed to complete the flight, the aircraft would be able to circle around in the sky until it is given instructions on what to do from air traffic control. The first step is often to activate the second landing gear, which all modern planes are also equipped to have for emergencies.

“The checklist would call you to recycle the landing gear handles or bring it back up and put it back down again,” Simon said. “This isn’t just a second shot hoping that that fixes it; what it does is switches it from Landing Gear Computer One which has an issue with itself to Landing Gear Computer Two. 999 times out of 1,000 this would fix the problem.”

‘A bit noisier than normal but that’s it…’

In the rare instances when neither this nor the “emergency gravity gear extension” work, a plane can technically still make a safe landing without an activated landing gear. Simon explained that the plane would simply descend onto a space that had been cleared for a more tumultuous landing by air traffic control. 

“If the landing gear Computer One, Two and the gravity gear was to fail, all aircraft are certified to land without the gear down,” he said. “We have checklist for this. It can land safely — a bit nosier than normal admittedly, but that’s it.”

While most of his followers were reassured by the explanation, one commenter asked whether “a bit noisier than normal” meant “grating metal” and “tearing tarmac possibly drowned out by the screaming.”

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