Event Details

Title:Tailstrike on landing, Airbus A321-231, G-MIDA, 14 August 1998
Micro summary:Following the second touchdown in a bounce, the tail of this A321 experienced a tail strike, resulting in a pressurization problem on the subsequent flight.
Event Time:1998-08-14 at 1118 UTC
File Name:1998-08-14-UK.pdf
Publishing Agency:Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB)
Publishing Country:United Kingdom
Report number:EW/C98/8/8
Site of event:Landing, Dublin
Departure:London Heathrow Airport, London, England, United Kingdom
Destination:Dublin Airport, Dublin, Ireland
Airplane Type(s):Airbus A321-231
Flight Phase:Climb
Operator(s):BMI British Midland Airways
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:The crew was rostered for a double rotation Heathrow to Dublin and the accident occurred on the second landing at Dublin. The first officer was the handling pilot and the aircraft was radar vectored onto the ILS to Runway 28 at Dublin. The weather at the time was given as wind 250 at 14 kt visibility 10 km, cloud scattered 1,300 feet broken 2,300 feet, temperature 18 QNH 1007. The approach, which was generally stable, was flown initially on autopilot to about 900 feet and then manually with autothrust engaged. At 120 feet (radio) the aircraft was slightly above the glidepath and the pilot pitched the aircraft down a small amount to correct the flight path. At 80 feet (radio) the power was reduced and at 50 feet (radio) progressive back stick was applied and the aircraft responded with increasing pitch. However, although the rate of descent decreased a hard touchdown resulted from which the aircraft bounced, with the right main landing gear becoming just clear of the ground and the left still just in contact. The crew perceived that the aircraft was airborne again and the pilot flying kept some back stick applied in order to cushion the landing and the aircraft continued to pitch up.

Almost coincident with the second touchdown the commander pressed his sidestick take over button and applied forward stick. The aircraft pitched down for a normal landing roll out. The pilots were aware that the first landing was hard but they were unaware that the second touchdown resulted in a tailstrike.

They discussed the landing and decided that although a firmer than normal landing had taken place it did not warrant a formal heavy landing check to be entered into the Technical Log. The aircraft was taxied to the stand and the passengers disembarked.

The aircraft was late on arrival and the crew began their turn round checks for the return flight to Heathrow. The cabin crew reported to the commander that the rear crew members had heard a 'clanking' noise in the area of the rear galley. The commander visited the rear galley and after a conversation with the cabin crew he determined that the most likely explanation for the noise was galley equipment moving within its stowage during the firm landing. At the time the operator's procedures did not require the flight deck crew to carry out an external inspection of the aircraft during the turn round at Dublin. This inspection was the responsibility of an engineer supplied by a sub-contractor to carry out the turn round inspection and refuelling.

The aircraft departed for Heathrow slightly behind schedule and the operation was normal until, passing FL 150 in the climb, the crew noticed a high rate of climb in the cabin altitude and the rear cabin crew reported a loud 'whooshing' sound in the rear of the aircraft. The commander levelled the aircraft at FL 170 and, as the cabin altitude was still climbing, a descent to FL 90 was requested. ATC cleared the aircraft to descend initially to FL 110 because of conflicting traffic and, as the cabin altitude had stablised at 4,200 feet, the commander decided to maintain FL 110 for the cruise. The aircraft made an uneventful landing at Heathrow. An after flight inspection of the aircraft revealed damage consistent with a tailscrape, which included an area of ruptured fuselage skin.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Bounce
Operations - Hard Landing
Systems - Pressurization
Consequence - Damage - Airframe or fuselage


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