Report: Incorrect take-off data causes A340-500 tailstrike and runway overrun at Melbourne

December 16, 2011

The incorrect entry of take-off weight data that resulted in the tailstrike and runway overrun of an Emirates Airbus A340 aircraft in 2009 was not a unique event. Similar events continue to occur throughout the world, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

The ATSB published the final report of its investigation into a 20 March 2009 accident, when flight EK407, with 18 crew and 257 passengers, sustained a tailstrike and overran the runway end on departure from Melbourne Airport.  The aircraft became airborne in the grass clearway but struck a light and several antennae, which damaged and disabled the instrument landing system for the airport.
The flight crew climbed the aircraft to 7,000 ft and circled over Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, while jettisoning fuel to reduce the aircraft’s weight. The flight crew then returned the aircraft to Melbourne for an uneventful landing on runway 34.

The ATSB found that the accident resulted from the use by the crew of incorrect take-off performance parameters. The initial error was likely due to mistyping, when a weight of 262.9 tonnes, instead of the intended 362.9 tonnes, was entered into a laptop computer to calculate the aircraft’s take-off settings. The error passed through several subsequent checks without detection.

Although a number of contributing factors were identified, the ATSB determined that there were two primary factors in the development of the accident as follows:

  • the flight crew did not detect the erroneous take-off weight that was used for the take-off performance calculations, and
  • the flight crew did not detect the degraded take-off performance until very late in the take-off roll.

More information:

ATSB animation of the occurrence.


Report: hard landing and pitch-up after touchdown factors in A321 tailstrike accident

April 22, 2011

The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) released the final report of their investigation into a tailstrike accident involving an Airbus A321 at Osaka-Kansai International Airport (KIX/RJBB), Japan. An improper flare, hard landing and pitch-up after touchdown  were factors.

On October 28, 2009, an Airbus A321-200, registered HL7763, operated by Asiana Airlines, took off from Seoul-Gimpo International Airport (SEL), the Republic of Korea, as a non-scheduled flight OZ1125.

The first officer was pilot flying during the approach to runway 06L of Kansai International Airport. The descent rate of 544 ft/min at the time of touchdown was high and the aircraft contacted the runway hard with a vertical acceleration of 1.91G. The nose-up stick input  was continued after touchdown, while the extension of the spoilers further produced a nose-up effect. As a result the aircraft’s pitch angle of 4.6 degrees at the time of touchdown increased to 10.2 degrees. This angle was in excess of the maximum allowable pitch attitude of 9.7 degrees.

The first officer decided to make a go-around and moved the thrust lever in the TOGA position about four seconds after touchdown. The airplane circled and landed safely eleven minutes later. There were 147 persons on board, consisting of the Captain, 8 other crewmembers, and 138 passengers. No one was injured. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, but there was no outbreak of fire.

JTSB concluded:

In this accident, it is considered highly probable that, during the landing on Kansai International Airport, the Aircraft sustained damage in the aft part of the fuselage which contacted the runway, since the pitch angle became excessively large after the touchdown on the runway.
It is considered highly probable that the Aircraft’s pitch angle became excessive because the First Officer continued inputting pitch-up signals even after touchdown.
The flare by the First Officer was inappropriate and as a result, the sink rate of the Aircraft did not fully decrease, causing the Aircraft to land with a strong impact on the ground. It is considered probable that, that the First Officer became upset by the impact contributed to his continuous input for pitch-up after touchdown.


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