Re: Gimli 767 nose gear

Date:         06 Jan 97 01:41:45 
From:         Kees de Lezenne Coulande <100121.1153@CompuServe.COM>
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C. Marin Faure ( wrote:

>Actually, this is wrong.  The nosegear did not collapse during the
>rollout.  One end of Gimli field was used by a sports car club for road
>rallys.  On the day the 767 landed there was an event taking place on the
>car track.  The track was bordered by concrete Jersey barriers or some
>other form of barrier fence.  Because the 767 had no thrust reversers and
>minimal braking, the landing rollout took it all the way to the car track
>where it ran into one of these barriers just as it came to a stop.  The
>nose never even hit the ground, but sat down on top of the barrier.  I
>remember seeing photos of this here at Boeing shortly after the incident.
>We sent an AOG team up there right away, and when they jacked the plane
>up, they found the nose gear was relatively undamaged.  It took only a
>short time to fix it and the plane was flown out within a couple of days.
>I remember all this was reported in the Boeing News a week or so after >the
>incident.  I don't know where the "skidding down the runway on its nose
>with fire shooting out of things" idea started, maybe with the TV movie >or
>the book, but the reality of the situation was the damage was very slight
>and the nosewheel did not collapse until it hit the race track barrier, >by
>which time the plane was barely moving.

     Mr Faure seems to have a rather strong opinion on the condition of the
"Gimli glider" nosewheel. I have a copy of the official Canadian accident report
(Final Report of the Board of Inquiry into Air Canada Boeing 767 C-GAUN Accident
- Gimli, Manitoba, July 23, 1983, published in April 1985). This report states
quite categorically that the unlocked nosewheel collapsed on first contact with
the runway, and that this fact made a significant contribution to the aircraft

     I quote from page 29 of Part II: The Factual Circumstances of the Accident:
     During the descent, First Officer Quintal had tried, without success,
manually to lower and lock the nose wheel. As it turned out, his failure to do
so helped to slow down the aircraft when it was on the ground, because of the
friction caused by contact of the bottom of the nose with the concrete runway.
This averted disaster to people at the far end of the runway.
     The airfield at Gimli is a disused military base. The far end of the runway
from wherr the aircraft touched down has been adapted for use as a drag racing
strip. Just beyond the strip used for racing, drag racing drivers ans their
families were staying for the weekend in tents and caravans. Fortunately, the
aircraft came to a stop before it reached them. The passengers and crew were
safely evacuated. Both fuel tanks were found to be dry.
     End of quote.

     The condition of the landing gear is discussed in more detail in Part III:
The Contributory Causes of the Accident, Section C: Equipment Failures and
Deficiencies, Subsection 3: The Landing Gear. Quoting from page 101:
     A further problem First Officer Quintal had to contend with under these
very trying circumstances was the lowering of the landing gear. This procedure
had to be delayed until just before landing in order to maintain what is called
a 'clean' aircraft. Lowering the landing gear produces drag and slows the
aircraft down. For the purpose of the glide, such an effect was not required
until immediately before the landing.
     With the failure of both engines, there was no source of electricity to
power the hydraulics which, in normal circumstances, cause the main landing gear
and the nose gear to extend and lock into position. In such circumstances, it is
necessary for the flight crew to refer to the Emergency and Abnormal Procedures
Section of the Boeing 767 Aircraft Operating Manual, which section is known as
the Quick Reference Handbook.
     As reported by First Officer Quintal, when the time came to lower the
landing gear, he selected the gear lever in the down position and nothing
happened. He therefore looked at the Quick Reference Handbook. He could find no
reference to landing gear free fall either in the index to the section on
landing gear or in the section itself.
     Shortly before touchdown, First Officer Quintal selected the alternate gear
extension switch to the down position. This had the effect of letting the gear
wheels drop by their own weight. But only the main wheels locked down in the
down position. A warning light in the cockpit indicated that the nose wheel was
not locked into position. First Officer Quintal then referred to the index of
the section on hydraulics but found nothing about free fall. He started looking
through the section itself, but ran out of time.
     Because the nose wheel was not locked, as soon as it came in contact with
the runway, it immediately collapsed and was forced back into the nose wheel
housing. In the event, although this resulted in additional damage to the
aircraft, it did have the effect of helping to slow the aircraft down.
     End of quote.

                                Kees de Lezenne Coulander

P.S. Although I cannot claim to be floatplane pilot, I have flown some circuits
with a float-equipped Cessna 172 from lake Union in Seattle, under the guidance
of the old Kurtzer himself no less.

C.M. de Lezenne Coulander
The Netherlands
Aircraft Development and Systems Engineering B.V.
Schiphol-Rijk, The Netherlands