A Cessna Citation *Creative Commons photo by Gerry Stegmeier
A Cessna Citation *Creative Commons photo by Gerry Stegmeier

A pilot had to use every ounce of his skill to safely land a private jet after internal flight instruments indicated the left landing gear had not come down.

The man behind the console of the Cessna Citation had to first conduct a fly past of the air traffic control tower to get visual confirmation the left landing gear had come down.

And then he was forced to execute a very delicate manoeuvre, landing on his right wheel first and slowly transferring the weight of the plane onto the left gear in case it had not locked properly.

The drama unfolded at LF Wade International Airport on Friday evening and sparked emergency services to be put on full alert and roads around the airport to be closed.

The private jet, which was on its way from the US to Bermuda, first reported problems at 6:04pm.

The pilot stated that instruments in the cockpit indicated the left landing gear had not come down and locked in position as the two-strong crew approached Bermuda.

At 6:11pm the jet did a low level fly past of the Bermuda Air Traffic Control tower, who reported back to the pilot that the left wheel appeared to be down.

But it was still unclear whether the left landing gear had locked in position.

The private jet was then told to wait in a holding pattern around 15 miles off Bermuda while two other planes approaching Bermuda landed.

At 6:22pm another private jet touched down at LF Wade and six minutes later Friday’s British Airways flight from Gatwick landed.

In the meantime police as well as the airport fire department had initiated their emergency plans and roads surrounding the airport were closed to the public.

At just after 6:30pm the Cessna Citation began her descent over Clearwater.

The pilot carefully manoeuvered the jet so the right landing gear took the brunt of the landing and slowly transferred the weight of the plane to the left wheel as it ran along the runway.

The left landing gear remained in position and the jet landed safely at 6:35pm to the relief of both occupants and surrounding emergency services.

Mark Bourne, Air Traffic Control (ATC) service manager, told the Bermuda Sun: “The aircraft was vectored to a holding area approximately 15 miles from the airport which gave the pilots time to try and correct the problem with the landing gear. 

“There were also two other coordinated inbound aircraft that were allowed to land prior to the aircraft of concern attempting a landing, in the event the aircraft made an abnormal landing and caused an obstruction on the runway. 

“The controller in the tower was in constant communication with the pilot relaying information. The controller was then responsible for putting the emergency services on standby while we waited for the jet to land.

“As the pilot came into land he favoured the right landing gear and carefully transferred the weight to the left side.

“Aircraft experiencing landing gear problems is something that our controllers have been trained for; not only to provide as much support as possible to the aircraft concerned, but also maintain the safety of other aircraft operating at the airport.”

Aaron Adderley, Airport General Manager, added: “We do get emergency landing situations a few times a year and everyone is well versed in the roles they have to play. Fortunately in this case it worked out without incident.”