Myanmar Airlines pilot saves all with nail-biting touchdown after landing gear fails

Firefighters at the scene after Myanmar National Airlines Flight UB103 made an emergency landing at Mandalay International Airport yesterday without its front wheels. Smoke entered the cabin (below) as passengers awaited evacuation.
Firefighters at the scene after Myanmar National Airlines Flight UB103 made an emergency landing at Mandalay International Airport yesterday without its front wheels. PHOTO: REUTERS
Firefighters at the scene after Myanmar National Airlines Flight UB103 made an emergency landing at Mandalay International Airport yesterday without its front wheels. Smoke entered the cabin (below) as passengers awaited evacuation.
Smoke entered the cabin as passengers awaited evacuation.PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON • A Myanmar pilot saved the day after his aircraft's landing gear failed, forcing the jet into an emergency landing with no front wheels yesterday morning, an official said.

The nail-biting touchdown - in which nobody was injured - was the second instance of a malfunctioning flight in less than a week within the country.

The Myanmar National Airlines Flight UB103 - an Embraer-190 model - landed at around 9am local time (10.30am Singapore time) in Mandalay, a city popular among foreign tourists, with all 89 people on board, including seven crew members, safe. The airline said in a statement that the aircraft had departed from the city of Yangon.

An unverified video circulated on social media, showing a graceful landing before the nose of the jet tipped over and ground to a halt.

Mr Ye Htut Aung, deputy director-general of Myanmar's Civil Aviation Department, told Agence France-Presse that the pilot tried repeatedly to drop the landing gear at the front of the plane - first through its computer system, then manually.

"They tried hard twice by flying around twice and asked to check whether the nose wheel dropped or not," he said, calling it a "technical fault". "So they had to land with the back wheels... The pilot could land it skilfully. There were no casualties."

Myanmar National Airlines is now sending engineers to Mandalay to check on the aircraft, Mr Ye Htut Aung said, adding that all jets get a daily flight check.

COULDN'T RELEASE LANDING GEAR

They tried hard twice by flying around twice and asked to check whether the nose wheel dropped or not. So they had to land with the back wheels... The pilot could land it skilfully.

MR YE HTUT AUNG, deputy director-general of Myanmar's Civil Aviation Department.

Passenger Soe Moe told AFP: "Smoke came out a little when we landed... All passengers are okay."

Yesterday's incident comes just days after a Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane crash-landed and slid off a runway while landing in Yangon airport during a storm last Wednesday, leaving 11 passengers injured.

Myanmar's monsoon season has caused problems for commercial and military flights in the past.

A military plane crashed into the Andaman Sea in 2017 with 122 people on board - one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the country's history - and the authorities attributed it to bad weather.

In 2015, an Air Bagan passenger plane veered off the runway due to bad weather and heavy rain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2019, with the headline 'Myanmar pilot saves all with nail-biting touchdown after landing gear fails'. Print Edition | Subscribe