Lanacster belly landing procedure

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by michaelm, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. michaelm

    michaelm New Member

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    A screenplay, I'm writing, calls for a belly landing by a Lancaster. What I need is information on the procedures a pilot would undertake to give his aircraft the best chance of survival and what instructions might he relay to his engineer (I am seeking some ‘technical colour’ here). In this instance, the aircraft would be attempting to land on one functioning engine per wing (outer), only. The undercarriage, needless to say, is kaput!

    1 To make it realistic, I need to know what the pilot would need to do in terms of say, speed, flaps, rudder control/control surfaces etc on his approach. It would be of help to know what instructions, if any, he might issue, to his Flight Engineer or any or all crew members.

    2 After touch down, would he still be able to use his control column, control surfaces etc or just fold his arms and, as it were, leave it to chance?

    3 Also, if, for example, the outer port engine were to fail – leaving only the outer starboard operational – what effect, if any, would this have on the plane as it sped along the runway? Might the aircraft slew to port, for example?

    4 To close an engine down, I understand that the pilot would ask his engineer for it to be ‘feathered’? Is this is correct, how would that instruction be issued to and answered by the engineer. Again, some ‘technical colour’ is needed.

    I am desperate now as the screenplay is very close to completion so any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, forum users
     
  2. Angels one-five

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  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    There were crash positions, basically braced against the main spar running through the fuselage but I don't remember which members of the crew adopted which position. The crew would be ordered to take their crash positions by the Captain by RT assuming it was working.
    The approach and landing would be made as slowly as was safely possible.
    The controls would be useless once the aircraft had landed but I'll bet you a quid that the pilot would still instinctively use them, particularly the rudders, as the aircraft skidded to a halt.
    The propeller would be feathered on an engine which was no longer running to prevent it windmilling and destroying itself and the engine and/or to reduce drag. The pilot would have asked the engineer to feather the propeller on number 1,2,3 or 4 engine. The recipient of an order might repeat the order before confirming that he had carried it out.
    The path the belly landed aircraft would take is unpredictable. I've never heard it said that the state of any engine had an effect on the outcome. Most survivors ascribe their survival to the skill of their pilot and luck. Pilots almost invariably ascribe it to luck, but then they are a modest bunch.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    michaelm, if you could find a copy of the Lancaster's pilot's notes, the real no BS procedures should be written in there.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  6. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    #6 Greyman, Feb 14, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
    1.) 115 to 120 mph, flaps 30 degrees. RPM would probably be at least 2,850 - probably full 3,000 if only on two engines.
    2.) The pilot is about to be in a 100+mph 'car crash', he's going to hold onto the column for at least stability.
    3.) As they are belly landing? Probably nothing. Which wing (engine nacelle) decides to touch town first would decide this.
    4.) Engine master cock off, close throttle, feather prop, ignition off

    I'm not sure about the exact language that would be used (probably simple, terse wording like above?), or precisely what duties are the engineer's responsibility in this case - but as far as I know the only thing that would be his responsibility for a crash like this would be the fuel system. If the airframe is damaged and the pilot absolutely cannot release the controls then I'd assume the engineer would be leaning over doing everything.

    Best bet would be talking to veterans or reading books they've written - but it doesn't sound like time is on your side ...
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #7 tyrodtom, Feb 14, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
    Just because the aircraft is on the ground doesn't mean the controls have no effect.

    Not as much effect as when at flying speeds, but still able to influence the yaw, probably not much control over pitch after you're fully on the ground. The Landcaster is a mid wing aircraft, but the engines hang down below the wing to about the same level as the fuselage, so fuselage and engines touching at about the same time means the pilot isn't going to have any roll control once he touches ground.
    During the long slide on the ground, a pilot might need to at least change the angle to which it approaches some oncoming structures, he's not just a helpless passenger.

    You need to get in touch with people that has specific knowledge about this particular aircraft.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I saw a A1E do a wheels up landing at NKP, Thailand.
    He chose to use the grass beside the runway, instead of the PSP runway. And you could see the rudder being worked during the whole slide.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I have heard first hand a navigator's account of a Lancaster crash landing. His pilot manned the controls as the aircraft slid to a stop but later maintained that this was an instinctive reaction and that they had no discernible effect.

    It's a bit like a racing driver continuing to steer despite the absence of front wheels.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The one belly landing I've seen , you could tell the pilot was trying to keep the aircraft straight, because you could see the rudder working.

    And it worked, the aircraft stayed straight, until it got down to 30-40 mph and the rudder was evidently not getting enough air to be effective. Then the aircraft ( A1E) turned 90 deg. to the runway, and stopped.

    I'd seen the beginning of other belly landings from my usual work area at the end of the runway, ( bomb dump) but that A1E was the only one I saw the whole thing, from beginning to end, because I was on the flight line.

    That A1E pilot had yaw control until about the last hundred feet.
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Although with some aircraft types, there may be a little rudder control in a belly landing, I think it would be very minimal, for a very short period, if at all, with most types.
    I've been on the airfield crash truck for a few belly landings, albeit mainly light single or twin-engined types, landing on grass. In all cases, once in contact with the deck, the aircraft went where momentum and airfield surface dictated !
    From what I've heard from veteran Bomber Command aircrew, and from those accounts I've read, a Lancaster, once on the ground in a belly landing, went where it wanted, with no real effective control from the pilot.
    As mentioned, the 'crash position' for the crew was centered around the main spar, where members would sit on the floor behind the spar, in the rest bunk area, and against the secondary, rear spar, with their backs to the spar, facing aft, head on chest, arms crossed. The rear gunner often remained in his turret, unless there was damage to this or the rear fuselage, although he was supposed to join the remainder of the crew in the center section.
    Once the aircraft came to rest, immediate evacuation was called, with the two upper hatches in the fuselage and the hatch above the pilot being employed, as well as the main entry door on the starboard side, if still serviceable. The upper hatches were normally jettisoned before impact.
    If there were still bombs on board, or in the case of fire or leaking fuel, the crew were to vacate the immediate vicinity with extreme haste.
    All this, of course, is assuming the aircraft remains right side up and intact, and crew members are free of immobilising injury and not trapped in, for example, a gun turret.

    If you have time before the deadline of your screenplay, then try to obtain and read 'Journey's End', by Kevin Wilson, which contains at least two descriptions, by former crew members, of belly landings, both 'smooth', and not so smooth! It's available in paperback in the UK from 'The Works', in store and on-line. (Cover shown below).
     

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  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    DEPENDING ON THE AIRCRAFT, you can maintain some directional control with the rudder as long as there is enough airflow. Additionally, the elevators may provide some effectiveness even though the aircraft's belly is touching the ground, again this is dependent on the aircraft and how fast you are moving, so you will continue to "fly' the aircraft until it has come to a complete stop.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'm talking about a Lancaster. Land at somewhere around 120 mph without wheels and the deceleration will be very rapid indeed, precisely why the crew braced, backs to the mains spar. Control surfaces, if they and their linkages survive, will be rendered ineffective both by a lack of airflow and the masking caused by the aircraft skidding along the ground. That's why the men who actually made such landings do not believe that the instinctive inputs they made had any effect on the course of the aircraft at all. It didn't stop them making them though.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Steve, you really don't know that and you're assuming a lot of things here. Great, you spoke to a "navigator" who went along on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" but he was not at the controls.

    The whole process here is based on how you put the aircraft down, speed and surface conditions and that's why I keep saying "look at the pilot's notes" or another official reference. In there they should have official information on emergency procedures and how the aircraft should behave, based on OFFICIAL flight testing, but then again no one could really predict accurately how any aircraft will behave (including a Lancaster) during a belly landing. I could tell you that as long as there was airflow over the control surfaces and rigging was in tact, there is the potential of at least some type of control along all three axis - ground masking? Please explain. I've seen aircraft flip during a belly landing because the yoke was turned causing a wing to lift resulting in a cartwheel, this happening while the belly was already on the ground.

    I could tell you as a pilot that during a crash or hard landing (I've been through the latter on two occasions) where control is lost, even momentarily, you continue to fly the aircraft and inputs are more than "instinctive."
     
  16. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Here are the emergency instructions from the Lancaster I III Pilot's and Flight Engineer's Notes AP2062A, C F:


    View attachment Lancaster III emergencies.pdf

    Final approach speed with one engine out is 120-125 mph IAS using as little power as possible (para 52; iv); with two dead engines approach speeds are 130-135 mph in a glide (52; vi). However, there is nothing to describe belly landings, so it has to be presumed that the speeds are the same. As Flyboy has mentioned, how an aircraft reacts during a belly landing depends on so many factors; eg: is the aircraft being landed on wet grass? Foot thick mud? A concrete runway?

    Nice belly landing on concrete - not a Lancaster:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7l59sAu51g
     
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  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  18. l'Omnivore Sobriquet

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    A digression, but not without interest for michealm who started the thread i hope.
    About sights and sounds treatments by the historical documentary business.
    Let us 'criticise' the above video clip of the (fine) P-47 Thunderbolt belly landing :

    - sounds : Another gastric fake sound-track spoiling the show, as usual... I've come to hate those little "realistic' clunks and klcks and skooch invariably pasted on any 20th century documentary : too neat, too close. It may be personnal but consider this one person who invariably produces mouth noises at lunch or sipping coffe, and you'll get the fellings.
    In this P-47 video i can discern the sound of a large piston engine at iddle in the mix, while the airplane is sliding and we're all watching its stopped propeller...
    If in doubt you can tell it is all fake, of course by the instantaneous rendering of the crash itself, when the aircraft is touching ground : it is several hundred yards away from the 'viewer' (i.e. camera), so its sound should be offset in time noticeably.
    There seems to be an unwritten rule in the show business pontifying that the lambda viwer must get the sound instantly from faraway events, as some artistic 'have to'. It's just systematic. Then well, think again : suppose some dramatic explosion occurs in the distant object you're interested on. A more realistic time offset between sight and sound will actually lead that lambda viewer to witness first the sight of the terrible event, and in a few split-seconds by the time he realises what happened BOOM goes the shocking verdict of reality. It would enhance drama i'm certain.

    - sights. I'm quite ok with colorized docs. They allmost allways pick the rights colors historically, and equally importantly 'merge' them ok with the old pictures framing and technology : generally a bit washed out, and discreet... Qualities exactly missing in sound treatments.
    This one P-47 doc seems to be an actual color vintage though, finely remastered certainly.

    Perhaps this WWII-aviation enthousiast's 'critic' is to be any worth to people involved in the business.
     
  19. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing is I haven't actually watched this one with the sound on - I just like the smooth landing. :lol:
     
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  20. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    I recalled reading some first hand accounts that made mention of hydraulic pumps being run from one of the inner engines. Since your play has both inners shut down, I thought I'd check. Sure enough, see this clause form the Pilot's Notes Flyboy posted. Your pilot may have trouble deploying flaps so the landing speed could be higher than normal.

    Capture.jpg
     
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