As we know, most passenger planes have redundant systems in case of failure of a mechanism. For example, in case of failure, that specific thing can be operated by another alternative method, mechanism, or a manual way. So, is there any alternate mechanism that works and can help to extend and lock the landing gear in case of failure?

I have read that landing gear can be extended by their own weight and get locked into position in case of failure of the hydraulics. What if extended gear are unlocked, but can not be retracted in order to utilize their falling weight to re-lock them into place?

We have seen situations where landing gear did not get extended and the plane needed to land on its belly. That is very dangerous for passengers. And, it can damage the plane heavily.

So, why is there not an alternate means by which you can extend landing gear that can prevent this situation. Or, maybe I am just not aware of it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "situations where landing gears not get retracted and the plane needs to land on its belly" I'm sorry, what? if the gear is not retracted, the airplane cannot physically land on the belly, there is a non-retracted gear in the way. did you mean extended? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Aug 25, 2020 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ I am talking about this kind of situation. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2020 at 6:05
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    $\begingroup$ According to the Wikipedia article (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LOT_Polish_Airlines_Flight_16), there was an alternative mechanism, however that too wasn't working (although it would have been very easy to get it working again): "Later investigation indicated a popped circuit breaker just to the right of the F/O at floor level would have enabled the electric motor for releasing the undercarriage. The breaker was reset after landing and the undercarriage extended normally." $\endgroup$
    – rob74
    Aug 25, 2020 at 7:11
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I have read that landing gears can be opened by its own weight and get locked into its position in case of failure of hydraulics. That is the alternative mechanism... $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Aug 25, 2020 at 7:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question is confusing. It is going back and forth between the premises of asking if such mechanism exists and stating that there is no such mechanism. $\endgroup$
    – DeepSpace
    Aug 25, 2020 at 10:11

1 Answer 1


In transport category aircraft there has to be an alternative mechanism to extend the gear if the normal mechanism fails, but there is no requirement for an alternative retraction mechanism. This is required e.g. by EASA CS-25 (Certification Specifications for Large Aeroplanes):

(c) Emergency operation. There must be an emergency means for extending the landing gear in the event of –

  1. Any reasonably probable failure in the normal retraction system; or

  2. The failure of any single source of hydraulic, electric, or equivalent energy supply.

(EASA CS-25.729 - Landing Gear - Retraction Mechanism)

A common solution to implement this alternative extension is via gravity. There is usually a way to mechanically release the up-locks and shut off any hydraulics to the gear from the flight deck, which will result in a gravity gear extension, e.g. in the Boeing 737:

B737 Manual Gear Extension

2 Manual Gear Extension Handles

Right main, nose, left main – Each landing gear uplock is released when related handle is pulled to its limit, approximately 24 inches (61 cm).

(Boeing 737 NG FCOMv2 14.10.3 - Landing Gear - Controls and Indicators)

The reason why no alternative retraction mechanism is required, is that there is simply no need for it. Should the gear fail to retract after takeoff, the pilots can just land again, either at their departure airport or somewhere else (possibly after burning / dumping some fuel if the aircraft is above its maximum landing weight). Continuing the flight to the destination is usually not a good idea because the landing gear extended results in a large increase in drag and therefore requires significantly more fuel (see e.g. Hapag-Lloyd Flight 3378).

In the accident you linked (LOT Flight 16), the alternate gear extension mechanism was also unavailable due to a tripped circuit breaker:

On Dec 18th 2017 the PKBWL released their final report concluding the probable causes of the accident were:

  1. Failure of the hydraulic hose connecting the hydraulic system on the right leg of the main landing gear with the center hydraulic system, which initiated the occurrence.

  2. Open C829 BAT BUS DISTR circuit breaker in the power supply circuit of the alternate landing gear extension system in the situation when the center hydraulic system was inoperative.

  3. The crew’s failure to detect the open C829 circuit breaker during approach to landing, after detecting that the landing gear could not be extended with the alternate system.

(avherald.com, emphasis mine)

The alternate landing gear extension in the Boeing 767 (as used by LOT 16) is also a gravity extension, but unlike the 737 the up-locks are released electrically rather than mechanically from the flight deck:

Landing Gear Alternate Extension

The alternate landing gear extension system uses an electric motor to trip the locking mechanism for each gear. Selecting DN on the ALTN GEAR EXTEND switch releases all door and gear uplocks. The landing gear free-fall to the down and lock position.

(Boeing 767 FCOM 14.20.2 - Landing Gear - System Description)

  • $\begingroup$ Pull a handle 24" out of the floor of the cockpit of the 737? There's no forgetting to reset that, then, is there? $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Aug 25, 2020 at 10:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan There are actually cables connected to those handles and they retract back inside the floor after you pulled them and the up-locks are released. You can see them in action in this YouTube video at 6:15. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Aug 25, 2020 at 10:54

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