Gear malfunction in the Seneca last night.........

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
Last night I took off in the seneca with about 800 foot ceilings. After I lifted off and climbed to 100 feet AGL I lifted the gear lever. The red "Gear Unsafe" warning light illuminated as it always does for a few seconds when the gear is in transition, only this time it stayed on.....indefinitely. I quickly glanced into the convex mirror on my left engine nacelle to identify the position of the nose gear and noticed it was still extended. I had no way of knowing if the main gear were still extended too, or if they had retratcted. Next I looked over at the breakers and found that none of them had tripped.

At this point I was well into the soup and realized I was going to need to return to the airport. I called tower and told them I needed to return. The controller gave me a vector. I leveled off at 3000 and realized I was going to need to keep my speed below 120 mph (max gear extended speed). I found the right power setting for that, and decided to go ahead and see what happened when I moved the gear lever to the "down" position. I felt and heard the hydraulic pump working and felt a slight thud as (at least one) of the main gear locked into place.

Problem: I recieved a green gear down light on my nose gear and right main, but the left main gear indicator would not illuminate. I have no way of visually confirming weather the main gear are up or down.

I called tower up and told them exactly what my situation was. The controller then gave me a vector for the downwind. Fearing a burnt out bulb, I tried switching the bulb for the right main and left main gear down indicators, but the left light still wouldn't work with a different bulb. There was one last solution: Pull the emergency gear extension knob. I slowed the airplane to 100 mph IAS (specified in the POH to avoid damage to the nose gear), pulled the knob and *PLUNK*, I got a green light on the left main!!! I told the tower that I did have all three gear down and that landing shouldn't be a problem. They cleared me for the ILS and broke out at about 700-800 AGL. I made the approach with no flaps and held the plane off the ground as long as possible, with my fingers ready on the mags and fuel selectors just in case.

It was a huge feeling of relief when I felt the left side of the airplane stay off the ground....I made the second turnoff and taxiied back to the tiedowns, follwed closely by an entourage of firetrucks and air ops vehicles. After shutdown, the firemen got some basic information on the aircraft. The air ops guys congratulated me on handling the situation well, and one even offered to split some multi time with me if I was interested.

Anyone else had similiar landing gear problems in piper aircraft? Any idea what could've gone wrong with the gear? The mechanic hasn't taken a look yet. I inspected the landing gear during the preflight and everything looked ok. I wonder what would cause just the left main to fail to extend.....
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Congrats on keeping your cool and a job well done.


My guess would be a hydraulic pump problem maybe. That would explain why the gear did not fully retract in the first place. Why two came down and one did not after selecting the switch down, I have no idea.
 

av8rmsu

Well-Known Member
Good job......just a good lesson in Flying the Airplane first!


My guess would be a pump malfunction or hydraulic leak of some sort. The Seminole uses hydraulic pressure to keep the gear up as well as moving it down. The pressure switch may be malfunctioning....I'm sure there are a lot of things.
 

CK

Well-Known Member
We had the same problem in the Navajo. Almost exactly the same as what happened to you........
 

triple7

Well-Known Member
Awesome job buddy.....had my first lesson today in manual gear extension.....you followed it by the book. where were you flying?
 

EDUC8-or

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Anyone else had similiar landing gear problems in piper aircraft?

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes I have, in a Seneca. We landed with 2 in the green. After we had exhausted all of our options we had to fly by the tower to get visual confirmation that the gear was down and locked. We had the fire trucks and airport ops waiting as we landed. Kind of an erie feeling. ATC also asked how many souls and how much fuel on board. Not fun. One of the wires to the down limit switch had become frayed so we received no indication on the left main gear.

By the way, you can have the gear extended up to 150 in a Seneca. You just can't retract it past 125. The Seneca is notorious for landing gear troubles, specifically nose gear collapses. Your problem sounds like it could be either in the hydaulic line or some sort of switch problem in the main that would not extend or possibly the actuator. The one great thing about the landing gear system in that airplane is you don't need any hyraulic pressure or fluid for emergency gear extension. As long as you have your relative wind and you're not flying inverted you're good to go.
 

cimepilot

Well-Known Member
I've had problems in both the Seminole and the Seneca with the gear. Both were wiring issues from the gear itself to the green indicator lights. Seems to be quite common for gear problems in the Piper products, especially the Arrow, Seminole and Seneca models.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
You're right, I could've increased my speed up to 150 once I realized I wasn't going to retract the gear. Dunno what I was thinking there.
 

EDUC8-or

Well-Known Member
It's better to be cautious, especially when you are experiencing problems. The slower you were the closer you were to your 100 MPH emergency gear extension speed. By the way, nice job getting down with no scrapes on the bottom! I've seen 2 Senecas that weren't so fortunate.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
where were you flying?

[/ QUOTE ]

I was departing from Austin Bergstrom International (KAUS, class C). Kerrville Municipal (KERV) was my destination.

I don't beleive it was a problem with the electrical contacts for the indicator lights....I think my left main was not extended until I pulled the emergency gear extension. I can't see any other reason why the gear down light would remain off until I pulled the EGE knob.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[ ATC also asked how many souls and how much fuel on board. Not fun.

[/ QUOTE ]

Nice work. On a related note, MAJOR pet peeve: when ATC asks the above question, I HATE it when pilots come back with "3 persons, 20 gallons". What the hell is 20 gallons supposed to mean to the tower????? Always give fuels in minutes, or hours/minutes.

Rant over
 

EDUC8-or

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
On a related note, MAJOR pet peeve: when ATC asks the above question, I HATE it when pilots come back with "3 persons, 20 gallons". What the hell is 20 gallons supposed to mean to the tower????? Always give fuels in minutes, or hours/minutes.

[/ QUOTE ]

That's good to know. Hopefully I won't have to use that again. You learn something new every day. Now if I were another CFI on these boards posting in another thread, I would have already known that because I knew everything from my CFI training.

My thoughts on this when they asked were how much fuel would translate to how big the fire would be and how long it would burn. (I'm being honest here) So I told them gallons. I guess what they really to know is how long you can fly.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
What the hell is 20 gallons supposed to mean to the tower????? Always give fuels in minutes, or hours/minutes.


[/ QUOTE ]

10,000 pounds of gasoline in a mad dog is, hmm, I dunno!
 

flyitup

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
10,000 pounds of gasoline in a mad dog is, hmm, I dunno!

[/ QUOTE ]

How about one HUGE fire!
 
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