Air tanker makes emergency wheels-up landing at Red Deer, Alberta

The landing was caught on video

air tanker l-188 wheels up landing red deer alberta
Tanker 490, an L-188, made an emergency landing June 22, 2019 at Red Deer Regional Airport when it had problems with the landing gear. Screenshot from the video below just before it touched down on the runway.

One of Air Spray’s four-engine L-188 Electras had a problem with its landing gear June 22 and had to make an emergency wheels-up landing at Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta.

Red Deer News Now reported that according to Graham Ingham, CEO at the airport, the incident happened around 12:20 p.m.

“We had an Air Spray air tanker, an Electra-type aircraft, perform an emergency landing due to the fact it couldn’t get its main landing gear down. After a couple of attempts, they decided that it would be safer to do a wheels up landing, and subsequently they did. Thankfully they came to a complete stop. There were no injuries, no fire and it was the best outcome for everyone.”

Mr. Ingham said two pilots and two other people on board walked away from Air Tanker 490 without any injuries.

The video below shows what looks like an excellent landing, considering the circumstances.

air tanker 490 landing gear Red Deer Airport
Air Tanker 490 had a problem with the landing gear at Red Deer Airport, June 22, 2019 and had to make an emergency landing. Photo courtesy of Red Deer Airport.
Air tanker 481 Lockheed Electra L188
File photo of another Air Spray L-188, Air Tanker 481, at McClellan, March 12, 2018. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The cause of the landing gear problem has not been released.

Other firefighting aircraft have had landing gear problems:

The FAA requires Erickson’s MD-87’s to drop retardant with landing gear down

It is specified in their Supplemental Type Certificate.

There have been several questions and comments from the readers on this website about why Erickson Aero Tanker’s MD-87 air tankers drop retardant with the landing gear down. The most commonly accepted explanation was to reduce airspeed, especially when making a downhill drop. This was why some older air tankers, like the DC-7 according to “Johnny”, kept the gear down.

But Erickson’s MD-87’s are required by the FAA to lower the gear while dropping — in fact it is specified in their Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) issued by the FAA. The reason is the prevention of stalling.

Beaver Fire, MD-87, T-103, South Dakota,
An MD-87, probably Tanker 103, drops on the Beaver Fire west of Wind Cave National Park September 13, 2017. Photo by Herb Ryan used with permission.

Earlier this year Ericson petitioned the FAA for an exemption from this requirement, and requested a “Flaps 40/Landing Gear Up” configuration while dropping, but on June 28, 2017 that exemption was denied.

Below is an excerpt from the decision which was signed by Michael Kaszycki of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service:

I deny Erickson Aero Tanker, LLC’s, petition for an exemption from 14 CFR 25.201(b)(1), that would have allowed aerial firefighting retardant drops in a configuration that does not fully meet the stall characteristics requirements on the modified DC-9-87 (MD-87) airplanes.