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Why Landing Too Fast Can Lead To A Wheelbarrowing Accident

Remember these tips to avoid a similar situation happening to you.

Boldmethod

Weight Focused On The Nosewheel

During takeoff and landing, the majority of your aircraft's weight should never be focused on the nosewheel.

When it happens, it's called wheelbarrowing, and it can lead to a loss of directional control, prop strike, or nose gear collapse. On top of those problems, with little to no weight on your main landing gear, you have little braking action.

And if all of those problems weren't bad enough, in strong crosswind conditions your plane can pivot around the nosewheel, weathervaning into the wind and making directional control nearly impossible.

Common Causes

According to the FAA, "one of the most common causes of wheelbarrowing during the landing roll is a simultaneous touchdown of the main and nose wheel with excessive speed, followed by application of forward pressure on the elevator control."

Another time wheelbarrowing occurs is when you attempt to land at an excessively fast airspeed. If you're over-focused on your landing point, you might "push" the nose into the ground first, and instinctively apply forward elevator pressure in an attempt to plant the aircraft firmly on your intended landing point.

Boldmethod

If You Begin To Wheelbarrow, Here's What To Do

The best thing you can do if you start to wheelbarrow is a go-around. Increase back pressure as you simultaneously increase power, join the traffic pattern, and try the landing again.

If going around isn't an option, add slight back pressure to resume a normal landing attitude, and transition your aircraft's weight to the main gear as soon as possible.

Boeing 737 Nosewheel Snaps Off In LaGuardia

At 500 feet above the ground on short final into New York's LaGuardia Airport, an airline crew re-configured flap settings from 30 to 40 degrees. This was 500 feet lower than the minimum stabilized approach altitude.

According to the NTSB, at 100-200 ft, the Captain observed that the plane was still above the glideslope, and ordered the First Officer to "get down" instead of aborting the landing. At an altitude of only 27 ft and 3 seconds from touching down, the Captain took control of the aircraft from the First Officer. The plane was descending at 960 ft/min in a nose-down position when its nose wheel struck the runway.

Here's a video from inside the cabin during landing:

The nose gear made contact with the ground before the main landing gear and subsequently snapped off. With a relatively short runway at KLGA, the Captain attempted to force the plane down too quickly. While this is an extreme example of a wheelbarrow landing, it can happen to you, no matter what type of aircraft you fly.

NTSB

Have you ever experienced a wheelbarrow on takeoff or landing? Tell us in the comments below.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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