Friday, March 8, 2013

Learjet In Chahokia

This story made the national news.  A Learjet had landing gear trouble and took it's time to figure out how to land at St Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois.   The plane ended up making a safe landing at Lambert Airport at the pilots request for a wider landing strip.  The front gear was the one the pilot was concerned about.  Apparently it could come down and retract, but it was 30 degrees tilted off center.  That was revealed to the pilot after a flyby of the tower at the St Louis Downtown Airport.  The crew and eight passengers were aboard.  I'll comment about the aircraft and the landing.

Learjet 45
Learjet is the maker of business jet aircraft that have better speed than airliners.  The Learjet in the story was a model 45.  It has a cruise speed of 500 mph and a range of 1968 mi.  It was developed in the early 1990's so it's not a new aircraft.  In fact, there was an upgrade to this model called the model 45XR.

With nose gear problems, a pilot might try keeping the nose in the air while landing and slowing the plane to a near stop.  I've seen this maneuver done by F-15 pilots.  Apparently they like to see who can keep the nose up the longest.  I don't think a Learjet could do such a stunt.  The pilot might have preferred to let the nose down as slow as possible.  The Grimli Glider had a nose gear that didn't want to lock as one of its problems.  The gear collapsed on landing and the front part of the fuselage halted the aircraft.  The pilot of the Learjet took a long time to land apparently figuring out the best way to minimize damage to the plane and injury to the passengers.  He tried a couple of times to land but aborted before landing at Lambert.  To his credit, he succeeded without incident.

As to emergency landings, this one ended on a good note.  Too often they don't end well.  I suppose it made the national news because the pilot requested the main airport rather than the smaller one.  The story was covered by Fox 2 News