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McDonnell Douglas MD-87 (N291EA)


Dropping retardant on the Martin Canyon Fire east of Bellevue, Idaho, July 23, 2017.


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Fabian Dirscherl
great shot
Anyone who is Type Rated in the MD87 like to hazard a guess as to why he is making the run in gear down configuration? Would not be optimal if he suffered an engine failure in this type of terrain...
Mark Thomas
...and I suppose they've studied the possibility of retardant running through the engines?
Nils Ribi Photo Uploader
Within seconds of finishing the drop, I noticed the landing gear came up.
Thanks Nils!
As explained in this link, the Gear Down increases drag allowing a steeper approach angle while holding speed down. http://fireaviation.com/2017/07/13/md-87-back-in-action/
ken kemper
Incredible Photo Nils.

most timely
ken kemper
Incredible photo Nils....most timely
Very good photo, nice timing to get this shot !!
Rod Cramb
I'm not even a pilot, but if the aircraft is dropping retardant, it would necessitate a fairly slow speed. If the landing gear was up, would the speed not trigger stall warnings? That would explain the retraction of the gear after the run. Nice shot by the way!
Hi Rod, have the landing gear down massively increases the amount of drag acting on the aircraft. I accept that the crew must have needed this drag (at least in the MD87) due to the steepness of the descent path for these particular runs. The danger is that in the event of an engine failure during the run, the a/c is left with only 50 per cent of it's engine thrust available in extremely hot and high conditions, which is very bad for climb performance. The last thing an extremely busy crew dealing with an engine failure (maybe even an engine fire) would need at that time is the massive aerodynamic drag of having an extended landing gear...I am sure they probably had an escape route picked out through a valley someplace!
Robert Seccombe
Flew them loaded with people not retardant. Could the turbulence caused by the gear being down aid in the disbursement of the drop? Maybe the extra drag allows them to keep the engines spooled up at the low speed; that way there is little or no delay in getting full power out of them if needed. Certainly the gear being down should an engine fail is not ideal but my guess is that the gross weight after the drop would be relatively low and would not present quite the problem and, it does come up.
Robert Seccombe
Ops, should have read Mr. Lapworth's comment. Makes sense to me.
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