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So after take-off, due to any reason, the landing gear does not re-tract, is there any standard procedure to be followed? Or can the airline continue with its flight?

Also, I would like to know any FAA regulation on the same (if any), which deals as to the procedure to be followed in such situations.

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  • $\begingroup$ Enter "Osan" into the search field and you'll see a couple of comments that show why airliners typically will not continue the flight. $\endgroup$ – Terry Nov 4 '16 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ Because this can be counted as a failure, the pilots probably will be forced to land the plane and not continue the flight. $\endgroup$ – FallenUser Mar 18 '18 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ @FallenUser, there is no such thing as “counting as failure”. For every system the pilots know how well or not the aircraft can fly without it and handle every failure accordingly. Gear not retracting “just” causes massive increase in fuel consumption. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Mar 19 '18 at 19:19
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Usually not. It depends on various factors, most importantly the available fuel. If the pilot decides that enough fuel is available even after accounting for the extra drag due to extended landing gear, he can decide to continue, though this will rarely be the case as the drag penalty is too high and the aircraft speed is limited.

A case in point is the Hapag-Lloyd Flight 3378, which crash landed due to fuel starvation caused by the extended landing gear (which was kept that way as a precaution). The pilot was criticized for his decision to keep on flying instead of diverting to another airfield, and given a suspended prison sentence.

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Unless it's a (very) short hop with sufficient fuel onboard and anticipated maintenance services at the destination airport, no. As mentioned above extended gear restricts speed and increases parasite drag on the airframe. The most likely scenario would be to report this to ATC, thence divert to a hold to either dump or burn off your excess gas until you're below the maximum landing weight, thence return to the departure airport or divert to an alternate.

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A flight can continue, there's no regulations to prevent it, it's the judgement of the pilot in command. In most cases the drag penalty will mean the flight will run out of fuel short of its destination, but a flight could theoretically continue. If the airplane has a short hop, plenty of fuel and the emergency facilities at the destination are better than the originating airport then continuing to the destination may be the best choice. That would be very rare though, usually a flight would divert to a much closer airport or return to the field it took off from depending on the emergency facilities available.

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Another factor would be the facilities available at the origin/dest/enroute airports. For landing gear issues a gear-swing may be required and that would require aircraft jacks/stands.

Example, I worked in an airline which operated a short sector from KUL-CGK vv. On departure KUL the landing gear would not retract. The pilots discussed this with MCC (maintenance control) and decision was made to divert to SIN where there was full capability for any landing-gear work.

Basically, an aircraft with its gear down is still safe, it will not fly as fast nor as far as planned but it is not a 'land immediately' situation.

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Gear down invokes two penalties: increased drag and reduced speed.

On modern airliners, gear down can add up to 50% more drag, so that's not an inconsequential number.

Also, the landing gear doors being open, or even partially open in the case of airliners that have some streamlining of gear in the down position, limits the maximum speed to a very low number, beyond which the doors will be torn off by the slipstream, possibly doing some nasty damage to the aircraft in the process.

That also limits the pilot's options in an emergency situation, like needing to descend quickly, or accelerate to avoid a dangerous condition, like stalling.

Finally, one has to ask... if the gear fails to retract, what else is wrong? Maybe nothing, maybe something. Could be a bad switch, could be a hydraulic leak that might also affect the flight controls, could be a piece of metal digging into the wiring harness that might later affect critical systems or start a fire. For sure, the aircraft has a problem that's out of the ordinary.

In the end, it's up to the pilot to make the call, but a failure of the gear to retract on a commercial airliner usually means getting the plane landed as soon as practical... i.e. dumping enough fuel to get down to a safe landing weight and getting clearance.

It's a lot easier to change planes or find and fix the problem, than to lose the aircraft and its passengers.

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This happened to me while working as a flight attendant some years ago. On a late night flight from Columbus to Cincinnati the pilots left the gear down because they saw a cockpit indication after take off that left them concerned that if they retracted the gear, they might not be able to get them back down and locked safely. The flight was low and slow, but otherwise unremarkable. We had a maintenance facility in Cincinnati so they wanted the plane on the ground there as opposed to returning to Columbus where there was no maintenance support.

If an airplane can land and take off with the gear extended, it's certainly air worthy for a short flight with gear extended. Low and slow would be a given, but otherwise there shouldn't be any problem.

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If the gears failed to retract after take off, an aircraft could carry on with its flight, but with limitations to its airspeed, cruising altitude and ATC (Air Traffic Control) would need to be informed of decreased cruising speeds and altitudes. The flight time may also be affected as increased drag from the landing gear will mean the amount of fuel may not be enough to reach the flight destination. But due the fact that most airline routes are quite far, most wouldn't be able to be completed if the gears refused to retract.

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    $\begingroup$ I would go further and say that the majority of airline flights could not be completed with gear extended due to excessive fuel consumption. $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Nov 4 '16 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I think it's worth mentioning. The principle is that if the aircraft were to take off with enough fuel to complete a flight should the gear fail to retract, then under normal circumstances that would be a significant inefficiency (since the additional weight of the extra fuel means you burn more of it). Some very short flights would be the exceptions. $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Nov 4 '16 at 12:05
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It depends on circumstances if pilot have sufficient fuel, to counter increased parasite drag due to landing gear, for endurance and flight is important (due to any prospect like reputation of airlines or emergency flights etc.) than they continues their flight. In such cases pilot must have to inform ATC for their low cruise speed and altitude. But generally airlines do not prefer to fly with extended landing gears and used to divert to nearby airstrip. because this also restrict the airspeed and it causes delay in schedule, but there is no regulation on this.

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Although not a general FAA regulations, some aircraft type certifications restrict their max airspeed with gear down. That will also restrict their service ceiling, probably so much that the original flight plan can't be flown.

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