FedEx Jet Goes Off Runway During Emergency Landing in Chattanooga

The Boeing 757 skidded off the runway during an emergency gear-up landing at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.

[Courtesy of Jeff Wall]

Federal and local authorities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are investigating an emergency landing of a FedEx aircraft Wednesday night. According to the Chattanooga Fire Department, the FedEx Boeing 757 discovered a problem with the landing gear as it approached Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (KCHA).

According to, FedEx flight 1376 took off from KCHA at 10:24 p.m. EDT destined for Memphis International Airport (KMEM).

The LiveATC recording of the conversation between FedEx 1376 and air traffic control reveals that approximately 22 seconds after contacting departure and receiving clearance to 10,000 feet, the flight reports it is working "a minor issue." The pilot requests to remain on runway heading and be cleared to an altitude of 5,000 feet. The controller approves the request and advises the flight that he will be vectoring it to the west and north to keep it within his airspace.

At approximately 1:29 minutes into the conversation, the controller asks if the flight needs assistance, and the pilot responds they are talking with the company and getting instructions.

The next transmission from the pilot states that the flight needs to return to Chattanooga and requests vectors that will allow it time to run more checklists and configure the aircraft for landing.

ATC replies it will keep the airplane north for vectors. At 2:16 into the conversation, ATC asks if the flight is declaring an emergency, and the pilot replies "negative."

ATC askes the flight to confirm it is not declaring an emergency. The pilot replies, "Negative. It is a flight control issue." ATC responds, "Just let me know if you need any assistance," then tells the crew to expect the localizer approach for Runway 20.

A few seconds later, the pilot reports they are getting an unsafe gear indication and would like to break off the approach. ATC approves the request, sending the aircraft back up to 5,000 feet.

The pilot advises that they are not going to be able to steer on the runway and requests the FedEx tug be standing by for assistance. At this time, the pilot declares an emergency, indicating the flight has three souls on board and an hour and a half of fuel remaining.

There are subsequent exchanges with ATC as the crew attempts to lower the landing gear by multiple means and asks ATC for a low pass over the runway to have persons on the ground  check the position of the landing gear.

The request is approved, and moments later ATC advises both the tower and ground crew "no landing gear observed."

The pilot replies, "We're going to plan on a no-gear landing."

The flight crew makes one more unsuccessful attempt to get the landing gear down then advises it needs to land.

The airport is closed and FedEx flight 1376 performs a belly landing on Runway 20, skidding off the end and coming to rest between a runway and nearby road.

Officials on the scene said there was smoke from the engines but no fire from the landing.

FedEx responded to FLYING’s  request for information with a statement: “FedEx Express Flight 1376 from Chattanooga to Memphis experienced an issue just after takeoff on Wednesday evening. Our crew is safe and any additional questions should be referred to the NTSB.”

The National Transportation Safety Board reports it will be on scene Thursday to begin the investigation. This will include examining the aircraft, reviewing its maintenance records, requesting any air traffic communications, looking at weather information, analyzing the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, interviewing witnesses, and looking at the backgrounds of the pilots.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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