A Skywest Canadair CRJ200 was operating on behalf of United Airlines as flight number UA-5493 performed landing with its flaps up in Calgary. The Canadair CRJ200 registration number N908EV was on route from San Francisco to Calgary on March 27 when the incident occurred.
When on the final approach into Calgary International Airport (YYC), the Canadair jet crew selected Flaps 8 and received a “FLAPS FAIL” indication. The crew aborted the approach and proceeded to go through the checklist while preparing for the landing on runway 35R.
According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft, which had aboard 29 passengers and three crew members remained on the ground in Calgary for eight hours before making its return journey to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
What is a “flaps up landing”?
As we all know, flaps are used to increase lift at lower speeds when taking off and landing. When not needed, the flaps are retracted to reduce drag. When landing, aircraft extend their flaps to give the plane a lower stall speed. This enables pilots to make slower approaches and land in shorter distances.
When flaps fail, as in the case of flight UA-5493, the pilots need to make a faster than usual approach to prevent the aircraft from stalling. Because of this, the pilots would have brought the plane down at a velocity that was a safe margin above the recommended flaps up landing speed.
About the CRJ200
The Canadair, also known as the Bombardier CRJ200, is a regional jet. It is based on the Bombardier Challenger 600 series business jets. Built by Bombardier Aerospace between 1991 and 2006, the 50-seat CRJ200 was a commercial success connecting small regional airports to large city hubs. Airlines touted the jets increased speed and comfort as a massive selling point.
If you have ever flown on a CRJ200, you will probably agree when we say that it is not very passenger-friendly. The windows are too low and the toilet area nearly always smells. Additionally, there is no room for a carry-on bigger than a laptop.
Could turboprops make a comeback?
Small 50-seat aircraft perform vital services on routes that would not make financial sense for larger aircraft. As the CRJ200 comes to the end of its operational life, many airlines are now looking for a replacement. United Airlines is opting for the CRJ550 and will take out seats leaving room for ten higher-earning business class seats.
Delta plans to drop the CRJ200 and operate much larger Airbus A220s. If this happens, it may result in services to some smaller airports being terminated. If so, this could lead to the return of turboprops. The ATR 72-600 is having a bit of a renaissance and could make a comeback in the USA, according to an article by Ben Mutzabaugh in USA Today.
What are your thoughts on this incident? Have you ever been on a plane while it landed with its flaps up? If so, please let us know what it was like in the comments section.