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Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:08 am

Ice And Landing Gear At NRT Plus A340 Landing Gear

Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:36 am

I did an earlier post asking about ice in the landing gear being an issue for Japan and someone kindly confirmed that it was meaning that the gear had to be lowered a lot earlier than normal but I'm now quite fascinated by the whole thing so have some questions that I'm hoping someone in the know about this issue plus/or A340-600's will be kind enough to answer...

To re-cap the original situation - I was waiting for the VS flight to LHR in the NRT Clubhouse when I saw our inbound aircraft do a go-around complete with a closed runway, emergency vehicles etc.. When we boarded I asked the FA about it who muttered something about ice in the landing gear and fishing boats. However when I asked another FA he said it was an issue with the landing gear that often happens and there was in fact two go-arounds. I'm aware that FA's will try to ensure I feel safe and happy so may not give the truth if they don't feel it is necessary, but I'm not worried about the issue - just really interested!

I'd be keen to hear why this is an issue for Japan/flights over Siberia in particular and more info about exactly what the problem is - does ice form in the undercarriage then fall out when the gear goes down? Why doesn't this happen on a similar type of flight - e.g. LHR/YVR - that also flies over extremely cold regions?

Also is it correct that the A340-600 gives warnings for all types of stuff which can mean a go-around as a precaution perhaps more often than other aircraft due to all of the automated safety systems? The FA told us this. For example, having the landing gear down early for this ice issue does not really explain having to go-around twice in calm conditions, good visibility etc. but it was clear when watching matinenence and the flight crew on landing that after a cursory look at the undercarriage all was well. The other thing I have just remembered is when we we put the gear down to land at LHR on the way back it felt like the flight crew quickly and quite noticeably 'shook' her from side to side - my colleague and I both noticed it and had a laugh about airline cost cutting and having to shake out the gear! However is that a valid kind of standard procedure if there is/has been some kind of warning or did we both jump to the wrong conclusion about a bit of unusal turbulence?

Sorry for all the questions but I have become very interested by it all so hope someone can answer!
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:49 am

RE: Ice And Landing Gear At NRT Plus A340 Landing Gear

Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:20 am

The issue with selecting the landing gear down early at Narita Airport is an Airport requirement at Narita for all arriving aircraft on approach to Runway 34L/R. The airport states it as a 'Landing Gear Down' requirement that requires the Flight Crew to select the landing gear down prior to crossing the coastline on approach to runway 34L/R.
My understanding is that sometime many many years ago, an aircraft on approach to runway 34 selected gear down at the normal distance out (over a small town) and shed some ice, that dropped close to housing. Since then they've made it mandatory to extend the gear over water to protect the local community.
I also heard that aircraft are monitored to ensure they're complying with this restriction. However this would not mean an aircraft is made to Go-Around, if they hadn't.
I flew into Narita for 11 years, and found this procedure a ridiculous situation. The massive waste of fuel (especially on 4 engined aircraft) that's consumed to drag a 'heavy' in for those extra miles is scandalous. But it is Japan.  banghead 

Strangely enough an approach onto the opposite runway/s (16L/R), there is no requirement. Go figure!

In answer to your other questions, there are a great many reasons for conducting a Go-Around. It doesn't have to a technical issue, can be a slow departing aircraft that reduces separation, an unstabilised approach, a checklist not complete at a certain time, etc, etc.

Never flown an Airbus, so can't help you with those questions.
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