A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787 Almost Landed Without It’s Gear Down In Melbourne

Earlier this morning, an incident was reported by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) after an inbound flight to Melbourne approached the runway without its landing gear deployed.

Aircraft VN-A870 flying for Vietnam Airlines. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

What do we know about the incident?

According to the report, the incident happened at 08:04 EST when Vietnam Airlines flight VN781 from Ho Chi Minh City to Melbourne Airport was on its approach to land. As it came closer to the runway, the ATSB said:

“Melbourne Air Traffic Control advised the crew that the aircraft’s landing gear was observed not to be extended.”


At that point, Flight Radar 24 shows that the aircraft had dropped to 650ft before crew engaged a “missed approach” (ATSB statement) and ascended 4,100ft within five minutes. It came into land 22 minutes after Flight Radar 24 recorded the flight’s lowest point.

Crew carried out a missed approach procedure as it came to land in Melbourne. Photo: eGuide Travel via Flickr

Had this landing gear failure not been noticed, the aircraft could have been seconds from disaster. Not only can landing this way cause serious damage to the aircraft at best, it can also cause wings and fuel lines to rupture, resulting in a fire. This was the final fate of the Sukhoi Superjet which crashed on 5th May claiming the lives of 41 people.

A suggestion of foul play?

But whilst landing gear can fail to deploy as a result of an electrical fault, also known as a belly-landing, there is a suggestion that this incident was what’s known as a gear-up landing, which occurs as a result of pilot error.


Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, a pilot who declined to be named since they work for a major airline, spoke of how Vietnam Airlines’ pilot should have been alerted on the descent that the landing gear was not deployed.

He said:

“They are less than a minute from touchdown…They should have received an alert that the gear was not down.”

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The aircraft was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with the registration VN-A870 and was delivered to the airline in November 2016, according to Air Fleets.

Vietnam Airlines’ 787 Dreamliner. Photo: John Taggart via Wikimedia Commons

Despite Boeing claiming “industry-leading technology” in its 787 Dreamliner, the aircraft has had a number of issues. In July this year, Simple Flying reported that the 787 Dreamliner was being probed by the US Department of Justice, with issues relating to poor production.

But there have also been issues with the Dreamliner, including:

It seems that the Dreamliner may not be all that dreamy, but in this case, it’s not yet clear which party is to blame.

The investigation is still in the early stages, with the ATSB in its evidence collection process as it gathers additional information from the flight crew. The investigation is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2020 where it will produce an eight-page document of its findings. It said:

“Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.”

In a press release sent to Simple Flying, Vietnam Airlines made a short statement which said:

“Immediately after the flight, Vietnam Airlines representatives in Australia started working closely with the Australian Transport Safety Commission (ATSB). Safety is the utmost priority of Vietnam Airlines, and the airline is committed to supporting investigations into this matter.”


Do you think there should be additional procedures in place for landing gear deployment? Let us know in the comments!


Leave a Reply

9 Comment threads
9 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Airbus once again approves of your messaging. Another check is in the mail!

Birgit Lenore LANGENFELD

There should always be a strict cooperation before landing between pilots among each others n the control tower,as this issue happened a lot of times!!


The Boeing hate is getting old, and ridiculous. You guys should really focus on the integrity of the information you are putting out.


within the last week there were at least two posts about Airbus planes with engine failures and smoke in the cabin. All those posts didn’t go on rants about how the plan wasn’t “dreamy”. Instead it called it “bad luck”. Boeing deserves a ton of hate about the Max issue and shady union busting tactics. But how a post about an airline nearly landing gear up turns into the author talking about a door seal leak is beyond me.


100% agree.


Agree with you 1000%


Yes. This site is really losing credibility.


So is Boeing let me know when they bring those 300 passengers killed back to life!

J Wild

It depends. I work for an Airline, and the things fished out of some of the Boeing MAX’s delivered to us absolutely should not be there. There is a marked difference in quality between one Boeing assembly plant and another. Lots of metal shavings, metal pieces, tools, these things present a very serious safety risk. We are not able to access all areas of the plane to remove all the debris, so it is a concern when our maintenance staff remove the debris they have access to, and several flights later, there is new debris in the areas they previously… Read more »


Yea. Let’s not report these issues. Funnily enough you are assuming there is a problem with the plane and not the pilots yourself. Come back to me when Boeing has brought those 300 passengers killed back to life.


No, I don’t think additional procedures are called for to assure wheels are down! What is needed is more and better crew training, particularly for some third world foreign carriers. I think I recall recently a flight crew on one such carrier failed to RETRACT the gear after takeoff and attempted to climb to cruise altitude and speed (which was never accomplished) only to have to make a precautionary landing short of the destination airport due to extraordinarily high fuel consumption and low TAS noted in flight! Maybe the post takeoff checklist should add “Double check gear is up!”


Proof, once again, that there’s nothing so simple you can’t screw it up. I speak from 36 years of piloting, military and civil.
There’s a checklist before landing and also a loud, unmissable warning system to warn you that you are about make a career ending mistake. This aircraft would’ve had that system and maybe it was about to sound as ATC made their call. The investigation will get to the bottom of this, don’t worry.

Tom Vuong

Pretty much hilarious how the pilots forget to drop their gears before landing at MEL. Thank goodness no accident can be happening ;3

Shaking From A Near Miss

I was on board the flight. There was no information on the incident during, or after the landing. Mind you, the tech crew’s English was terrible for the standard announcements on destination etc, so not sure they could have explained, or we would have understood. Better that they focused on the job at hand and the problem anyway. The first I knew about it was a news story 8 hours later. I simply assumed that the windy conditions impacted the final approach and they aborted and went around again. In hindsight what I thought was the sound of the landing… Read more »


Hard to understand English? Probably Aussies up front. 🙂

Gerry Stumpe

Some of these responses are so Trump-like. If you do not agree with the news then the news is fake. All airplanes have problems. Boeing and Airbus both. Simple Flying is not picking on Boeing. Just reporting the news. Welcome to the world of Trump.

Mi so homey

Pilot error on the part of both pilots. I am not a pilot and even I know they are supposed to follow a check list that is designed to have them check and verify the steps to land.

But what do you expect, these sh*thole countries are all corrupt. Pilots are hired because of who they know or how much money they have.

Gerry Stumpe

Well, good morning Mr. Trump.