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8th of April 1977

A McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 was operating a charter flight from Amsterdam (the Netherlands) to Bilbao (Spain) on this day in aviation history. Onboard the aircraft were 66 passengers and a crew of 5, 2 flight crew and 3 cabin crew.

Damage to the right-hand nose landing gear bay doors (Source: ©Unknown)

After an uneventful flight, the aircraft descended from its cruise height and started the approach to Bilbao Early in the approach, the aircraft got struck by lightning twice, with no abnormal indications in the flight but with the weather getting worse the Captain decided to divert to Bordeaux France. During the diversion, there were no signs or indications of system malfunctions. While configuring the aircraft during the approach to Bordeaux the crew observed that there was no down and locked indication for the nose landing gear after the gear was selected down. The applicable emergency checklists were completed but the nose landing gear did not extend. Additionally, clearance from ATC was requested, and obtained, to perform son G-inducing manoeuvres in an attempt to extend the nose landing gear. This was also ineffective, and the decision was made to perform a landing without the nose landing gear being deployed. ATC asked the crew if they wanted the runway covered with foam by the fire brigade, which was rejected by the crew.

Damage to the lower skin, aft of the nose landing gear (Source: ©Unknown)

The aircraft was vectored to the runway and made a textbook touchdown, the crew kept the nose up as long as possible. But with the airspeed decaying also the elevator authority decayed, at that time the captain steered the aircraft off the runway onto the grass adjacent to the runway. And slowly the nose of the aircraft settled on the grass, causing only limited damage. The damage was limited. And once the passengers and crew had left the aircraft the aircraft was inspected and it was discovered that the nose landing gear bay doors had been distorted by the lightning strike, preventing the nose landing gear from deploying. Once the nose landing gear bay doors were (forcefully) opened the nose landing gear extended and locked in the down position. The passengers were transported by coach to Bilbao later that night

After some provisional repairs, the aircraft was ferried back to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport for permanent repairs.

(Editorial note; this blog is based on open-source information, V2 Aviation - Training & Maintenance has not been able to source an investigation report)

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