After diverting, the flight crew of an Airbus A319 in Brazil was told that their aircraft was missing one of its four main gear wheels.
This incident happened on Tuesday the 6th of February. It involved LATAM Brazil flight LA-3923, departing from Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont (SBRJ) in Brazil. The domestic flight’s destination was Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport (SBSP).
This is a regular flight that LATAM performs six times per week and usually lasts just under an hour. At this time, we don’t know how many passengers and crew were on board this Airbus A319, on the day of this gear incident.
Choosing A Long Runway
The aircraft departed from Rio de Janeiro on time, using runway 20L. It appears that the first half of the flight was uneventful, with the aircraft cruising at FL280. But as the aircraft got closer to Sao Paulo, the crew decided to divert.
Sao Paulo’s Congonhas is the city’s domestic airport and has a famously short runway – just 1,940 meters (6,365 feet), with roads and buildings at either end. By contrast, Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport (SBGR) is much bigger, with its longest runway (10L/28R) being 3,700 meters (12,139 feet).
This is where the LATAM crew diverted when they got indications that their A319 had some sort of gear issue. Before landing, the crew decided to make a low pass over runway 10L, so that observers on the ground could tell them if they could see anything unusual.
As it turns out, they could. The tower controller informed the A319 crew that they could not see the inboard wheel on the aircraft’s left main gear leg. The crew acknowledged and set up their aircraft for a second approach.
A319 Lands With Missing Main Gear Wheel
Despite the missing wheel on their left main gear, the LATAM crew landed their A319 safely, on runway 10L. They taxied off the runway normally, with rescue vehicles following them to a stand. The passengers and crew disembarked normally.
It is not clear when the A319 lost the wheel from its left main gear leg. The flight crew diverted while they were at cruise altitude, which suggests that their gear problem began on departure from Rio de Janeiro.
Apart from its much longer runways, it appears that Guarulhos Airport suited the LATAM flight crew because this is where their airline can perform maintenance more easily. As of this writing, the incident aircraft remains there.
This Airbus A319-100 has registration PT-TMO and is just over 13 years old. It first entered service with LAN Airlines in Chile and became part of LATAM’s fleet when LAN merged with TAM in 2012. In July 2020, the aircraft was involved in a high-G event, caused by a pilot-induced oscillation (PIO). It didn’t suffer any damage, but a cabin crew member suffered serious injuries.