Distracted by Cellphone, Airbus Captain Forgets Landing Gear

Preoccupation with cellphone, other factors, caused distraction in the cockpit.

An Airbus A320 captain is in hot water after investigators found he was forced to abort a landing below 500 feet after preoccupation with his cell phone caused him to forget to deploy the landing gear.

According to the Australian newspaper the Age, the Jetstar captain was sidetracked by incoming text messages as he and the copilot began their approach to Singapore’s Changi International Airport.

The report maintains that the copilot looked over to find the captain distracted by his cell phone after repeatedly failing to respond the copilot’s request to set the missed approach altitude.

As the A320 descended through 1,000 feet, the copilot did a scan of the instruments with the feeling that “something was not quite right,” although neither crewmember realized the gear was not down until an automated warning sounded at 720 feet.

The captain then moved to lower the gear, but aborted the landing at around 400 feet after another warning indicated the low altitude. According to the report, both pilots were disoriented and unaware of their altitude, believing the aircraft to be around 800 feet at that moment.

The report said the captain didn’t send or read any texts during the approach, and that his preoccupation with his cell phone was just one of a number of factors that played a role in the 2010 incident. Others included the late realization of an autopilot warning light and a cockpit conversation about the Singapore skyline, among other factors.