Earlier this week, a Cargolux Boeing 747-8F returned to Novosibirsk, Russia shortly after its departure. The reason for the diversion was found to be an issue with its landing gear. However, when attempting to depart on the following day, the same issue occurred. So, how exactly did the two incidents play out?
Cargolux operates an all-Boeing 747F fleet. The newer 747-8F variant accounts for almost half (14/30) of these aircraft. Photo: Getty Images
December 3rd – the first incident
FlightRadar24.com reports that, on December 3rd, Cargolux flight CV9744 arrived at Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport (OVB) at 21:22 local time. Having started its journey at the airline’s hub in Luxembourg, the aircraft, a Boeing 747-8F, was on the ground for just over 90 minutes. At 22:58, it continued its journey as flight CV9745 bound for Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO) in China.
However, The Aviation Herald reports that the aircraft was back on the ground in Novosibirsk less than an hour later. Carrying four crew members and 118 tons of cargo, the flight had departed Novosibirsk from runway 25. However, its crew was forced to halt its climb having reached just 7,000 feet, due to a problem with its landing gear.
The flight landed safely back at Novosibirsk on runway 25 after just 51 minutes in the air. The West Siberian Transport Investigation Department reported the exact reason for the diversion the following day. It stated that “a sensor indicated the right main gear could not be retracted,” thus preventing the crew from continuing the flight towards Zhengzhou.
December 4th- the second incident
The aircraft was on the ground for less than 12 hours before its crew attempted to fly to Zhengzhou once more. However, shortly after its departure from Novosibirsk’s runway 25 at 11:18 local time, the flight ran into problems once again. According to The Aviation Herald, on this occasion, the flight had made slightly more progress in terms of altitude, and it reached 8,000 feet before an issue became known.
At this point, the crew was once again alerted by a sensor to a problem with the aircraft’s landing gear. Once again, this had indicated that the right main gear was unable to retract. As such, the flight had to dump fuel and return for a safe landing on Novosibirsk’s runway 25 once more. In a curious parallel to the previous incident, the aircraft was also in the air for just 51 minutes on December 4th.
Due to similar incidents involving the aircraft having occurred in consecutive days, a West Siberian Transport Investigation Department team was dispatched to the site. The purpose of its visit was “to check the circumstances of the occurrences and establish whether violations of safety regulations have occurred.”
The aircraft in question
The aircraft involved in these two incidents was a Boeing 747-8F which bears the registration LX-VCN. According to Planespotters.net, Cargolux took delivery of this aircraft in September 2016. Its delivery flight was Everett-Los Angeles International-Glasgow Prestwick-Luxembourg.
The aircraft is named ‘Spirit of Schengen,’ in a tribute to the free movement of people and goods between certain European countries. This came about after the Schengen Agreement was signed in the small wine-making town of Schengen, Luxembourg in 1985.