No Landing Gear, No Problem — V-22 Lands on Mattresses
A U.S. Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tiltrotor was returning to its base in Kuwait in late July when its landing gear broke, the Marine Corps reported:
“We got the initial indication in Iraq, but we had enough gas to make it back here and troubleshoot the problem,” said [pilot Capt. Paul] Keller. “Inside our emergency procedures checklist, there are certain steps you run through and we ran through all of them, but the gear were still stuck up.”
Capt. Keller knew they had enough fuel to work on the problem and stayed aloft, instead of rushing in for an immediate emergency landing. Despite finishing the checklist with no success, Marines in the air and on the ground put their heads together to come up with new ideas to get the Ospreys landing gear to come down.
“We tried some further troubleshooting steps that the crew and the Quality Assurance shop had thought of while we were in a holding pattern around the airfield,” said Keller. “By that point, it became apparent that the gear weren’t going to come down.”
With the malfunction refusing to give in, the Marines knew they would have to use their emergency ‘landing pad.’ At the end of the runway, they had previously staged mattresses, stacked high and strapped down, that would give the Osprey a soft spot to land on to minimize any damage.
“That is the actual published emergency procedure,” said Keller. “We’ve all read up on it before and the Marines already had the emergency landing pad set up.” …
Keller made the decision to make a hovering pass at the landing area, knowing that it would help remove the desert dust from the pad and maintain visuals with the ground personnel that were set up in advance. When the crew was ready, Keller brought the aircraft in approach and hovered over the landing pad. Then, he carefully lowered the aircraft into position.
The mattress-landing is reminiscent of that time a malfunctioning Marine Harrier landed on a stool.