Jetstar A320 at Proserpine on Mar 5th 2020, damage to hydraulic line and landing gear

Last Update: February 12, 2021 / 13:50:00 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 5, 2020

Classification
Incident

Flight number
JQ-840

Aircraft Registration
VH-VFL

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

A Jetstar Airbus A320-200, registration VH-VFL performing flight JQ-840 from Sydney,NS to Proserpine,QL (Australia), departed from Sydney's runway 34L and completed a seemingly uneventful flight with a safe landing on Prosperine's runway 29.

Australia's TSB reported a postflight inspection revealed minor damage to the nose gear landing lights and the main landing gear components including a hydraulic line. The occurrence type was rated hydraulic and the occurrence was rated an incident, a short investigation was opened.

On Feb 12th 2021 the ATSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the incident was:

On departure from Sydney, the nose gear landing light was probably struck and damaged by an unknown object. Consequently, part of the nose gear landing light lens likely impacted and damaged the main landing gear.

The ATSB summarized the sequence of events:

At 1308 Eastern Standard Time1 on 5 March 2020, a Jetstar Airways (Jetstar) Airbus A320-232 registered VH-VFL, completed a scheduled passenger flight from Sydney, New South Wales to Proserpine, Queensland. During the subsequent walk around the flight crew noticed damage to the aircraft’s undercarriage, specifically:

- the nose gear landing light was damaged
- the left main landing gear (MLG) brake hydraulics were pierced, with fluid visible on the apron, tyres and gear assembly
- a metal conduit carrying wiring for the left MLG was deformed.

After the damage was found, a member of the cabin crew recalled hearing a ‘deflation noise’ while on descent into Proserpine. There was no visible biological evidence that might indicate a wildlife strike. Therefore, given the extent and nature of the damage, Jetstar reported that a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) may have collided with the aircraft.

Runway inspections were subsequently conducted at Sydney and Proserpine, however no debris or any evidence of an impact could be found at either location. Jetstar reviewed the flight data but could not identify anything that might indicate a strike had occurred. The flight data did not record the condition of the landing light or the level of hydraulic fluid in the MLG brake line.

The ATSB analysed:

The polycarbonate cover on the nose gear landing light would likely have prevented it from disintegrating due to thermal stress, such as from a blown bulb. Therefore, the damage to the light indicated by the recovered bulb fragments was probably the result of an impact. The bulb fragmented despite the presence of the polycarbonate cover, indicating that the light was struck with considerable force. Given their proximity to each other and the nature of the damage, the punctured hydraulic line and deformed metal wiring conduit were also considered to be the result of an impact.

Examination of the damaged hydraulic line identified traces of what was most likely glass. The most probable source of the damage to the hydraulic line and wiring conduit was the glass lens of the nose gear landing light. Other potential sources of damage, such as ground support equipment or foreign object debris could not be ruled out, however there was no evidence found to support these.

Both impacts most likely occurred during the flight between Sydney and Proserpine, since no damage was reported following the previous flight, or during pre-flight inspections in Sydney. Fluid found in the main landing gear (MLG) wheel well likely came from the punctured hydraulic line. The fluid was probably discharged into the well when the crew raised the landing gear during departure from Sydney, as the line would have been pressurised, and the gear was not retracted again prior to the damage being found. It is therefore likely that the MLG damage occurred during departure from Sydney, rather than via a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) while on descent into Proserpine, since damage on descent would not explain the fluid found in the wheel well. As such, the noise heard by the cabin crew member was probably unrelated to the occurrence.

The source of the impact to the nose gear landing light could not be determined. It is possible the aircraft struck a bird or an RPA during departure from Sydney, or foreign object debris during its take-off roll. It should be noted, however, that no debris was found during runway inspections at Sydney Airport and there was no visible biological evidence of a wildlife strike.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 5, 2020

Classification
Incident

Flight number
JQ-840

Aircraft Registration
VH-VFL

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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