For The Third Time In Less Than 2 Years A U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy Conducts Nose Gear Up Landing

A C-5M Super Galaxy’s nose landing gear undergoes a maintenance operations check July 28, 2017, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Two C-5M nose landing gear malfunctions within a 60-day period during landings at Naval Air Station Rota, Spain, halted all Dover C-5M flight operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia)

Another issue for the C-5’s troublesome landing gear.

On Jan. 31, 2019, around 19.45LT, a C-5M Super Galaxy cargo aircraft conducted a nose gear up landing at Travis Air Force Base in California.

The aircraft was flying from Colorado Springs Airport in Colorado for its flight to Travis, when the mishap, that didn’t cause any injury to the 11 reservist aircrew from the 349th Air Mobility Wing on board the aircraft.

According to an article in Air Force Times, The C-5 was returning to Travis from a contingency mission to deliver equipment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, which encompasses the Middle East and Afghanistan, spokeswoman Capt. Lyndsey Horn said.

The C-5 took off from the Colorado Springs Airport in Colorado for its flight to Travis.

This is the second such incidents in less than one year and the third in less than two years. Indeed, on Mar. 15, 2018, an Air Force Reserve Command C-5M Super Galaxy performed an emergency landing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas: a failure caused the airlifter to land on its nose, skidding three-quarters of the way down the 11,500-foot runway before coming to a stop.

Previously, in May 2017, a Super Galaxy performed a nose gear up landing at Rota Air Base in Spain, a mishap that was followed by a second malfunction on the very same base, on July 15, 2017, that led to the grounding of 18 Galaxy cargo planes based at Dover Air Force Base (out of 56 flown by the Air Mobility Command) pending further investigation. On Jul. 19, AMC’s Gen. Carlton Everhart ordered a fleetwide assessment of the command’s 56 C-5s.

During the assessment, maintainers found that the ball-screw drive assembly was causing issues with the extension and retraction of the nose landing gear.

The ball-screw assembly was replaced for all C-5s in the fleet (including the aircraft involved in the latest incident) and the Super Galaxy cargo aircraft slowly returned to service: the grounding was lifted for 5 C-5s at the beginning of August; at the beginning of September 2017, 38 out of 56 aircraft were ready to fly again.  On Sept. 18, the first C-5M to ever land at Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, as part of the Hurricane Irma relief efforts, was the example 86-0020, the same involved in a nose gear up landing at Rota Air Base, on May 23, 2017.

It’s not clear whether the one in Lackland and the latest one in Travis are isolated incidents or not.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.