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Piper Arrow II, operational tips, landing gear system

Shortly, I shall be flying a Piper Arrow (a non-turbocharged one, “II” model).
Most of my time in Arrows is in Turbo Arrows, and my last flights in a non-turbo were several years ago.

Anyone have any practical, operational tips for this one? (Please, no wikipedia stuff… )

So far, I understood that the II still has the fat wings, but the newer style wingtips. The MTOW is 2650lbs. It has the small fuel tanks (50 gals capacity). (I do have a POH copy, but so far not the one of this particular example).

What I didn’t fully understand yet are the fine points of the landing gear: Do the Arrow IIs have the automatic gear extension feature (aka “backup emergency gear extender”) or not? Or have they all been disabled in the IIs where originally present? (The Turbo Arrows I flew didn’t have this feature at all).

If the system is still present and operative, is the override usually kept in the locked position in flight? Pros/cons?
Could someone explain the emergency release procedure a bit more in detail?

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

They do have the auto gear extender, but on many of them it is disabled. I don’t think all are disabled, but many are.

Emergency dropping of the gear is basically slow down, select gear down, and hold down the emergency gear lever until you get three greens.

The gear is help up by hydraulic pressure. Selecting the emergency gear down releases that pressure.

EIKH Kilrush

The gear auto extender might or might not be disabled, depending on aircraft.

The override lever has three positions, from bottom to top:

1) gear emergency release (pushed and held down)
2) the normal position – the auto extension is enabled. The lever is spring-loaded to go back to this position.
3) auto extension override (pulled up, can be latched in this position)

Normally it is left in (2) – the normal position throughout all flight phases. The auto-extender will prevent gear retraction below a certain airspeed, and extend automatically below another, slightly lower airspeed.

If you need a performance take-off and get the gear up quickly after lift off, you need to override the auto extension so the gear retracts (otherwise it will be kept down by the auto-extender), this should be in your pre take-off checks for short-field take-off.

You would also override the auto-extender before stalling exercises, and might want to do that after an engine failure to prevent the gear from falling down at the worst possible moment…

All in all, I understand people who just disable it or override it as a matter of course. Just make sure you have a properly working gear-up warning…


PS Not Wikipedia, but from flying a PA32R, which has exactly the same gear system.

Biggin Hill

Thank you Cobalt.

and might want to do that after an engine failure to prevent the gear from falling down at the worst possible moment…

I was thinking about an engine failure scenario shortly after takeoff, say 300 feet (with all usable runway consumed). At least in this kind of season, one would probably prefer to land off-airport with the gear up, but with the extender active, it will drop the gear right after the engine failure. I understand that activating the override at that time would make the gear come back up, but I don’t want to have to fiddle with that in such a situation….
As a consequence, I would have to keep it deactivated for each and every takeoff…

Another one which I didn’t quite understand is one point in the emergency gear extension checklist: after selecting the gear lever down, it first calls for raising the emergency gear lever to the override position and only then pushing it down for the emergency extension. I seem to be missing the logic behind that. It’s item 7 of this checklist:

Last Edited by boscomantico at 08 Feb 14:10
Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

In my view the system has one major failing in that the PA28R was original supplied with circuit breakers that you could not operate manually.

One of the failure modes of the system is that the landing gear switch falls apart in your hand just as you select UP and the gear retracts.

This is a real problem and you are about to find out that when you select the gear down with the emergency gear lever it unlocks, starts to fall and as soon as you let the spring loaded lever go the gear then retracts ! The only way to get the gear down is to turn off all the the electrics, the unfortunate result is that you will never know if the gear is done and locked as the indication system is electric and if you turn the electrics back on the gear retracts !!

About now you have to take a leap of faith that your maintenance guys have put the grease in the trunion bearings at the last check ( the grease nipples are only excessible if you have a right angle adaptor or jack the aircraft and half retract the gear ) as you have to tune off the electrical and use the emergency lever and hope the gear is locked down.

The wise operators of the type have replaced the standard LANDING GEAR MOTOR circuit breaker with one that you can manually trip, if the landing gear switch falls apart in your hand then you can just trip the landing gear CB and then pull the landing gear emergency lever in the normal way and check the three green lights. If you have a red light then normaly a bit of yaw will sort it out unless there is no grease in the trunion bearings………. And at that point in time you know the gear is likely to retract on landing.

Why would you automatically want to land gear up? The only instance where this makes sense to me is a ditching scenario.
If you leave the gear up you’re going to ruin the aircraft anyway, so what is the incentive for saving the gear?

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

If landing in a soft, boggy and uneven field, the general wisdom is that with the gear up, there is a somewhat lower risk of nosing-over (=abrupt deceleration).

With the gear down, most probably, it will shear (or at least the nosegear will collapse), so anyway you slice it, an old vintage Piper Arrow will be totalled anyway.

But yes, if you manage to find a good, even and firm field (possibly even a frozen one) then one might walk away with no real damage. However, avoiding injury to persons must always have priority, so if landing gear up increases the chances of walking away unharmed, then that’s what one should do.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

General wisdom also says that one should not try too much to deviate from standard practices in a stressed situation. If you normally land gear up, then that would be the preferred choice, although I do believe most pilots include gear down in their normal procedures.
It’s just a thought. You’re not a rookie so probably more capable of making a qualified judgement depending on the surface below.

Earlier you mention an engine failure occurring at 300 feet or so, which may leave you little chance to think of anything but landing straight ahead, in which case lowering the gear may also be overlooked so chances are you’ll land gear up anyway.

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

General wisdom also says that one should not try too much to deviate from standard practices in a stressed situation. If you normally land gear up, then that would be the preferred choice, although I do believe most pilots include gear down in their normal procedures.

I am afraid you didn’t understand. The above was not about normal procedures, but only about landing off-airport (in a field), in case of engine failure. That is a situation where (depending on the terrain conditions) landing gear-up might make more sense, yet an activated Piper auto gear extender will throw out the gear at that time.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

Sure I did, you just didn’t catch my irony.
Yes, “people” say that one should do this or that depending on the surface, but I’m saying you should do whatever is the normal procedure. In this case, with the Arrow, you are contemplating whether to divert from normal procedures by overriding the gear system. From 300ft as you were mentioning, you won’t have the time to make a judgement (in my view) of which is better, gear up or down. If you’re cruising at 5000 ft over water then that’s a different story.

I’ve never felt the need to tamper with the gear on the Arrow. I bring it up or down as required, and I did have an incident in one where my brain was pretty much working at warp speed anyway and the gear variations never crossed my mind. Mind you, I do know of some people who use the automatic function to lower the gear as standard procedure. Not something I would recommend as a safe practice.

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma
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