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Accident to the Piper PA28 registered HB-PQL on 11/08/2021 at Bâle-Mulhouse

Perte du train d’atterrissage principal gauche, atterrissage et immobilisation de l'avion sur la piste, en instruction

Responsible entity

France - BEA

Investigation progression Closed
Progress: 100%

Note: This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in May 2022. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference. (September 2022)

Note: the following information is principally based on statements made by the student pilot and the instructor and the recording of a camera set inside the aeroplane[1], behind the occupants. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA


The student pilot completed the training period and made a dual flight. Discussions with the instructor were conducted in English.

He took off from Basel-Mulhouse airport bound for uncontrolled Fricktal-Schupfart aerodrome (Switzerland), approximately 35 km away, in order to perform left hand aerodrome circuits on unpaved runway 25. He performed a first touchdown: the video recording showed smooth contact with the runway, with no noticeable bounce. During the run, the aeroplane[2] had a tendency to veer to the left and the instructor asked the student to make a right rudder input.

While the aeroplane was in the downwind leg, a pilot on the ground informed the crew by radio that the left wheel was missing. The instructor took over the controls and performed a low pass over the runway: the pilot on the ground confirmed that the wheel was missing.

The instructor decided to return to Basel-Mulhouse and explained his intentions to the student pilot. He transferred the controls to the student pilot and contacted the flight school to inform them of the situation.

On the way to Basel-Mulhouse, the instructor took over the controls and asked the student pilot to check the aeroplane's emergency procedures to see if there was a procedure in case of a landing gear failure. The student checked but did not find anything in the documentation.

The instructor then explained that there was a risk of what remained of the landing gear sinking into the ground if the aeroplane landed on an unpaved runway. He indicated that he preferred using a paved runway and detailed the associated risks: sparks and a possible fire. He added that they should try to land with as little fuel as possible, with full flaps and the lowest possible airspeed.

He also told the student pilot that he would have to move as far right as possible, in order to maintain a right bank as long as possible during the landing run.

He checked that the fuel selector was on the left tank in order to consume the fuel from this side.

The instructor contacted Basel-Mulhouse tower, explained the situation and asked if he could perform a low pass in front of the flight school in order to have the condition of the landing gear visually confirmed. The controller proposed performing the low fly-pass over runway 15 and added that the rescue and fire fighting service would be positioned near the runway. The student took the controls and performed a low fly-pass over the runway, after which the controller confirmed that the left wheel was missing.

The student pilot then performed several circular holding patterns at the east of the aerodrome in order to consume as much fuel in the left tank as possible. The instructor slightly opened the right-side door and reviewed with the student pilot the actions to be taken and the strategy to be applied:

- keep the ailerons to the right as long as possible during the landing run;

- switch off the fuel pump and close the fuel selector valve;

- switch off all electrical systems on final;

- clear the cabin to let the student pilot move to the right on short final;

- set the rudder trim to the right;

- shut down the engine as late as possible.

The instructor shared his thoughts with the student pilot and initiated a discussion to ensure that the strategy was shared. The instructor took the controls and informed the controller that he was ready to land on runway 26. He also told the controller that he would shut down the systems on short final and that he would not be able to communicate afterwards.

After receiving the clearance, he left the holding pattern, switched off the lights, the navigation systems and the transponder.

On short final, the student pilot switched off the remaining systems and then, after unfastening his seat belt, moved to the right of the cabin when the instructor asked him to. The instructor landed on the right landing gear and shut down the engine. The aeroplane initially remained on the axis of the runway, then gradually tilted to the left and turned before coming to rest on the runway. The two occupants evacuated the aeroplane.

On the ground, the inspection of the aeroplane revealed that the left landing gear strut had separated from the rest of the structure.



Student pilot

The 53-year-old student pilot did not have an aviation licence at the time of the accident. He had logged 91 instruction flight hours all on the PA28.


The 43-year-old instructor held an ATPL license issued in 2003 by the Swiss authorities with an SEP instructor rating. He had logged over 2,700 flight hours.



As the documentation did not contain any appropriate emergency procedure, the instructor requested confirmation of the aeroplane's condition. He then initiated a holding pattern to consume fuel from the left tank and to have time to develop an appropriate strategy. He initiated a discussion with the student pilot, which meant that the choices were validated together and ensured that the strategy was understood and shared. The two occupants divided the actions between them and carried them out in a calm and methodical manner, which contributed to the successful landing manoeuvre

[1] The video is shared with the agreement of the student pilot and the instructor.

[2] PA28 HB-PQL has a non-retractable tricycle landing gear.