Willpower, ability make for safe belly landing of Hercules C130

LABUAN: Willpower and the ability to operate safely were instrumental in the successful belly landing of a Hercules C130 transport aircraft of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) at Labuan Airport on Saturday.

Its pilot, Major Zul Helmie Zainuddin, 31, who has been piloting C130 aircraft for seven years, said it was also the positive attitude and thinking, with no panicking that helped him and eight other crew members to land the aircraft without landing gear safely on the runway, and with minimal damage to the aircraft.

"We are grateful to Allah The Almighty as we had landed safely despite the technical glitch in the sky, while the continuous simulator training we've undergone, have imbued positive attitude and thinking in us.

"We were taught to be fully prepared for any eventuality, and most importantly, to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP) that helped us to land safely," he told reporters at the RMAF Membedai Camp, here, today.

Zul Helmie, who has 10 years of experience in aviation and operations, explained that the aircraft, which had just departed from Labuan Airport at about 11am on Saturday unexpectedly had a dysfunctional main landing gear on the right side.

They were leaving for Kuching, Sarawak for a routine 'sortie' competency training when the problem occurred.

"As the aircraft pilot, I took the responsibility by deciding to discontinue the journey for the training which was scheduled from Labuan to Kuching, and later to Kota Kinabalu before returning to Labuan.

"I circled over the island of Labuan for six hours to try solve the starboard main landing gear problem in accordance with the SOP, but the problem persisted," he said.

"The aircraft was running out of fuel, and it was already about an hour past the flight time schedule at the airport. So, as the aircraft captain, I decided to land without the main landing gear but only with the nose wheel landing gear.

"Actually, we had two options, according to the emergency checklist, one of which was to land completely without tires, and the other option was to land with only the nose tire with the other two tires (left and right), fully up.

"I decided on the second option which is safer, as landing with the nose tyre, I believed I could still control the direction of the aircraft and the impact might not be strong during the landing process," he added.

Zul Helmie said the safe landing was also the result of close cooperation from the emergency rescue teams from the Fire and Rescue Department and the RMAF Provost Unit, as well as the air traffic controller. — Bernama