El Al pilots forget to lower wheels on Heathrow landing

Passenger jet averts disaster just 250 meters above runway when alarm alerts cockpit that landing gear not deployed

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of an El Al aircraft on a runway. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an El Al aircraft on a runway. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An El Al passenger jet came close to dangerously belly-flopping onto a runway recently after its pilots forgot to lower the plane’s landing gear.

The incident took place as the 737 jet was preparing to land at London’s Heathrow Airport last month, according to reports released Thursday.

As the plane descended to a height of about 250 meters above the runway a safety alarm went off in the cockpit indicating to the pilots that they had forgotten to lower the landing gear.

The crew quickly pulled up into a climb, lowered the wheels, and then came around again to make their landing. The passengers were not informed that anything unusual had happened during the maneuver.

El Al said that the incident was under investigation with the chief accident investigator of the Transportation Ministry.

According to a report in news site Nana 10, the wheels of the plane were supposed to be lowered at a distance of six miles from the runway, and a further two checks should have been carried out to make sure that the landing gear was deployed. However, the plane was just two miles from touchdown and at a low altitude before the alarm caught the pilots’ attention.

Haaretz reported that one of the pilots involved was sent to complete a training course as well as testing on a simulator.

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