Video Shows U.S. C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft Performing Nose Gear Up Landing in Afghanistan

A screenshot from the video showing the mishap in Kandahar. (Image credit: Youtube video posted by Country Living with MD).

The U.S. airlifter performed a successful emergency landing at Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The following video was reportedly filmed on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, when a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft experienced a nose gear malfunction that forced the aircrew to perform a nose gear up landing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The clip shows the giant cargo, belonging to the 446th/62d Airlift Wing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, as it performs a normal touchdown on its MLG (Main Landing Gear) before lowering the nose.

Sparks start streaking around as the open bay doors touch the tarmac.

Based on the photos included at the end of the clip, the damage seems to be rather limited.

This is not the first time a C-17 performs a gear-up landing in Afghanistan. For instance, in 2009, Globemaster #96-0002, assigned to Charleston AFB, South Carolina, made a somewhat famous “gear up” landing at Bagram in Afghanistan. The aircraft landed on the runway centerline with the landing gear retracted
and slid approximately 4,500 feet before coming to rest on the runway. Crash, fire and rescue response was immediate, the crew escaped the aircraft safely and the emergency resulted in the temporary closure of the runway, but the C-17 was extensively damaged. The Accident Investigation Board concluded the primary cause of the mishap was the failure of the pilots to lower the landing gear and confirm proper aircraft landing configuration in accordance with the Before Landing checklist.

In the case of the Oct. 19, 2020, crash landing, the footage clearly shows that the nose gear was apparently unable to lower forcing the pilots to perform what seems to be an almost perfect nose gear up landing.

Issues with the nose gear have affected another Air Mobility Command fleet in the last couple of years.

On Jan. 31, 2019, a C-5M Super Galaxy cargo aircraft conducted a nose gear up landing at Travis Air Force Base in California. That was 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, 2017, AMC’s Gen. Carlton Everhart ordered a fleetwide assessment of the command’s 56 C-5s.

After maintainers found that the ball-screw drive assembly was causing issues with the extension and retraction of the nose landing gear, the assembly was replaced for all C-5s in the fleet and the Super Galaxy cargo aircraft slowly returned to service

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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.