British Airways is to speed implementation of a fix to prevent a repeat of the nose-gear retraction incident that damaged one of the carrier’s Boeing 787-8s on the ground at London Heathrow, in the aftermath of two similar events in the previous five years.
UK investigators have yet to complete their assessment of the factors which led to the 18 June event, but have attributed it to a nose-gear locking pin being inserted in the wrong location before the landing-gear was cycled on the parked aircraft as part of a maintenance check.
The risk of such an error had been highlighted on other occasions.
One of Ethiopian Airlines’ 787-8s suffered an inadvertent nose-gear retraction at Addis Ababa in March 2016, as the aircraft was preparing for a flight.
Passengers were on board the aircraft at the time, according to the US FAA, and some received minor injuries, while the aircraft received “substantial” damage.
Lack of clarity surrounded the Ethiopian incident. Boeing acknowledged the retraction to the US FAA but believed the event was not caused by a wrongly-inserted lock pin, but was “specifically due to there being no ground lock in installed at all” – which technically amounted to a different issue.
But the FAA, in a December 2019 directive, said it had received “conflicting information” over the probable cause of the incident, suggesting that it might have occurred as a result of wrong insertion.
There was less doubt over a second occurrence, two years later in March 2018, when a 787-8 experienced an on-ground nose-gear retraction while undergoing maintenance testing at a US conversion facility in Grant County airport, Washington.
“Although no maintenance personnel were injured, the incident resulted in major structural damage to the forward fuselage,” the FAA stated.
It attributed the nose-gear retraction to the lock pin being fitted in the apex pin inner bore of the nose-gear’s lock link assembly – which was immediately adjacent to…