How pilots avoided disaster landing a plane without wheels, fuel, electrics

How pilots avoided disaster landing a plane without wheels, fuel, electrics

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One of the pilots behind a frantic emergency plane landing at a Gold Coast airport has revealed how he was able to avoid disaster and walk away without a scratch.

Andy Hartel was one of two senior pilots on board a light plane returning from a training flight when they discovered their landing gear wasn’t working about 8pm on Tuesday.

With almost four hours of fuel remaining, the pair were forced to circle Coolangatta Airport in an attempt to burn fuel to avoid a chance of ignition when making the landing without the aircraft’s wheels.

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The quick-thinking pilots also flew over the tarmac at a low level to assess how they would make the landing. 

“It was a bit, bit daunting,” Hartel told 9News.

“The last thing you want to do is start panicking.

“And we were both very calm about it, we had plenty of time to rehearse what we were going to do.”

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The pilots had one chance to get the precision landing right, with emergency services on standby, prepared for the worst.

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“We were a bit apprehensive about that, as you can imagine,” Hartel said.

“We had to shut down fuel, turn the electrics off just prior to landing, so that’s why we came in dark.”

The pilots were able to successfully make the landing, with only sparks seen flying from the aircraft.

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“Shower of sparks, aluminium dust flying everywhere. At one stage I thought the plane was on fire, it actually wasn’t,” Hartel said. 

Both pilots walked away without injury.

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