Jul 23, 2013

Apparently, air travel (which used to be considered one of the safest traveling methods) is becoming more dangerous by the day. Southwest Airlines flight 345 from Nashville (a a Boeing 737-700) was landing when the front wheel apparently either came off or severely malfunctioned.  Luckily, a fire did not break out (although passengers reported seeing sparks coming from the bottom of the plane), and at first glance, it seemed as if another “Asiana-type” event had occurred, but what really happened?

Southwest Flight Lands With Nose On Runway After Front Landing Gear Fails

A writer for Forbes Magazine, John Goglia notes:

As everyone who has ever flown in an airplane knows, the landing gear is extended by the flight crew well before touchdown on the runway.   The noise associated with the lowering of the landing gear is well-known to most flyers….
  If the landing gear is not down and locked, warning lights would illuminate in the cockpit, advising the crew there was a problem.  In that case, the crews would advise air traffic control of the problem.  Despite confusing initial reports, it now appears that the crew did not advise ATC of any problems which would indicate to me that no warning lights illuminated in the cockpit to warn of a landing gear problem.

So, it appears to have been the fault of the flight crew not advising air traffic control of the obvious malfunction in the landing gear. Just seconds after the “crash” (which seems more like a “bumpy landing” compared to the recent Asiana crash that killed and severely injured several people), some even expressing their desire “never to fly again”:

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At 6:20 CDT on Monday, Southwest released a statement saying 5 passengers and 3 flight attendants were injured.

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