All Safe After Scary Landing Gear Failure On Latam Flight 4292 Temporarily Closes Medellín’s International Airport
Last Tuesday an emergency was declared at the José Maria Córdova international airport (MDE) serving Medellin and eastern Antioquia, Colombia as the pilot of LATAM Airlines flight LA4292 declared an emergency shortly after takeoff, due to a malfunction in the Airbus A320 jet’s forward landing gear, that apparently jammed.
The Latam pilot deserves credit for a safe landing despite a broken landing gear, with zero injuries.
The airport’s emergency firefighters were deployed, and priority was given for the stricken plane to return and land. The pilot was able to successfully land the plane, destroying the forward landing gear, but also damaging the newly repaired runway, that had undergone major maintenance the previous month.
The airport remained closed for 14 hours, with arriving flights being redirected, and departing flights canceled or rescheduled.
Aeronáutica Civil, Colombia’s civil aviation authority, issued a statement regarding the incident saying (translated):
Aeronáutica Civil wishes to inform you that at 3:12pm today, Tuesday, March 29th, an A-320 aircraft belonging to Latam, with tail registration CC—BAS that covers the Medellín – Cartagena route had to return to the José Maria Córdova airport in Rionegro, and perform an emergency landing.
The aircraft’s crew detected a failure in one of the forward landing gear after takeoff. As such, they decided to overfly the airport area of Rionegro to consume part of the fuel, and land safely.
The landing was made in a controlled manner and in safe conditions for the occupants of the aircraft and the personnel on the ground. The emergency was attended by the aviation firefighters corps, and Emergency and Maintenance Services personnel.
The airport’s director of operations, Javiér Benitez said that removing the disabled aircraft was a complex procedure, as the normal tugs that move aircraft around on the ground could not be used. Benitez said that Aerocivil along with airport operation company Airplan coordinated with assistance provided by competing airlines Avianca and Viva to ensure safety and return the airport to operation. A 100 ton crane was brought in, but the thin aluminum skin of a commercial jet is not designed to support even partial weight of the aircraft. The fuselage was gently lifted, allowing the broken front gear to be placed on a low-bed vehicle, and the aircraft was eventually moved to an area allowing safety and forensic inspections, while the runway could be repaired and reopened.
Latam has stated that its passengers affected by the emergency may reschedule or obtain refunds without penalty.
Local media were able to obtain video of the heart-stopping landing. Video courtesy El Colombiano:
ADS-B transponder tracking provided courtesy FlightAware.
Photos courtesy Aerocivil