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18th of June 2021

A Boeing 787-8, powered by 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-AE3, was being loaded with cargo for a cargo flight from London (England) to Frankfurt on this day in aviation history, in 2021. At ~06.20 the crew arrived at the aircraft. At the same time, some ground engineers were busy clearing 3 status messages related to an ADD (Acceptable Deferred Defect) for a Nose Landing Gear door-closed solenoid valve. The crew and maintenance staff discussed the technical status of the aircraft, as a result, the scheduled departure time was moved to 07.25.

The aircraft resting on its nose after the nose landing gear retracted (Source & © AAIB)

The commander left the cockpit with 2 engineers to carry out the walk-around inspection of the aircraft. After completion of the walk-around, this was communicated to the other engineers. During this time the cargo loading continued. In order to complete the required maintenance actions of the DDG (Dispatch Deviation Guide) the aircraft hydraulics needed to be pressurised and the landing gear control lever to be moved from landing gear down to landing gear up and to landing gear down again. The lead engineer instructed one of the other engineers to install the landing gear locking pins in the landing gear. This would prevent the landing gear to retract while moving the landing gear control lever during the maintenance procedure. They were also instructed to hook up a headset so they could communicate between the cockpit and the ground staff. The landing gear locking pins were fitted by two of the engineers. The loading staff was informed that the hydraulic systems of the aircraft were going to be pressurised. With the landing gear locking pins fitted and the loading staff informed the ground team informed the maintenance staff on the flightdeck that the pins were fitted, who at that time was reading the AMM.

Hydraulic systems were pressurised and confirmation was asked and received from the ground crew that all personnel was clear from the aircraft. The engineer then pressed the "LOCK OVRD" and selected the landing gear lever to up. The nose landing gear doors (Main and Nose) opened and the nose landing gear retracted. The nose of the aircraft struck the ground. Some of the staff in and around the aircraft received minor injuries;

  • A loader was hit by the forward cargo door

  • The copilot

The aircraft sustained damage to the lower fuselage, nose landing gear doors and both engine inlet cowlings. Door 2L (the second door from the nose on the left side of the aircraft) was ripped from its hinges, resting on the top platform of the stairs positioned at this door. When the aircraft was lifted up the nose landing gear was inspected and it was found that the nose landing gear locking pin was not fitted in the correct location, thus not locking the gear and preventing the (source; © Unknown) nose landing gear from retracting. (it was installed in the Apex Pin Bore, part of the lock link assembly, see the first picture directly below)

The correct and incorrect location to instal the Nose Landing Gear Lock Pin

(Source & © AAIB)

A similar accident had happened before in 2018, and as a result, a Service Bulletin was issued with instruction to perform a minor modification of the Nose Landing Gear Lock Link, which would prevent the Nose Laning Gear Lock pin to be installed in the wrong location. This Service Bulletin was mandated by an Airworthiness Directive (AD 2019-23-07) with a compliance time of 36 months from publication. The incident aircraft had not yet been modified.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is continuing its investigation of this accident, A final report will then be issued, The AAIB Special Bulletin, published on the 14th of July 2021, which is the source for this blog, can be accessed by clicking here.

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