Dim lights contribute to gear up landing

This September 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Piper Malibu. Injuries: None. Location: Farmington, N.M. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was performing a practice ILS approach in bright daylight. When the airplane was three miles from the airport, he extended the landing gear and flaps. The airplane crossed the threshold of the runway and was just about to touch down when the pilot noticed that the landing gear green indicator lights did not appear to be illuminated.

Unsure if the landing gear was down and locked, the pilot initiated a go-around. He applied full throttle and raised the landing gear and flaps. The airplane settled and the propeller struck the runway. The pilot held full power and a nose-high attitude as the airspeed decreased. The airplane slid to a stop.

It was determined that the cockpit lighting dimmer switch, which controlled the illumination intensity of the landing gear lights, was set to the “Night Dim” position, which led the pilot to believe that the landing gear was not deployed.

Probable cause: The pilot’s premature retraction of the landing gear and the flaps during landing. Contributing to the accident was the inadvertent dimming of the cockpit lighting, resulting in a perceived unsafe gear configuration.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: CEN10CA533

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