A flying instructor and a student escaped unharmed after one of their aircraft’s landing gears failed at Wycombe Air Park.

The scary incident happened on September 4, 2021, while a flying instructor was doing a trial lesson with a new student pilot.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the weather was “not ideal” for a lesson on the day, but the student was keen to fly, so it was agreed a few circuits could be carried out.

While take-off seemed normal, the pilot, aged 56, said he then noticed something was wrong with the aircraft – a Piper PA-28 – which he described as a “surging”.

Thinking he may be experiencing a rough running engine, he tried changing fuel tanks – but as he continued the approach to Wycombe Air Park, he realised the engine was running normally but there was still an “unusual surging motion”.

As the aircraft touched down on the runway, it became “immediately obvious” the right landing gear had failed – and while it was a “very gentle touchdown”, the right wing dropped, turned through 180 degrees and “slid” onto the grass.

The aircraft was made safe and the instructor helped the student get out. Fortunately neither of them were injured.

Bucks Free Press: Photo from the AAIB investigation reportPhoto from the AAIB investigation report

An investigation by the AAIB found the right main landing gear’s torque link attachment lugs had failed due to “fatigue cracking”.

Back in 2003, the aircraft manufacturer issued a service bulletin, saying the lugs should be inspected at 100-hour intervals to make sure they were not cracked.

The AAIB said: “This accident shows that fatigue cracking of the torque link attachment lugs continues to occur, and that this can lead to an accident.

“It highlights the importance that operators of the affected aircraft continue to inspect their aircraft in accordance with the SB (service bulletin).

“It also suggests that it may be prudent for operators whose aircraft accumulate a significant number of landings to inspect their aircraft more frequently than required by the SB.”