Air France A321 at Paris on Sep 12th 2011, tail strike on landing
Last Update: April 27, 2012 / 15:03:30 GMT/Zulu time
The French BEA released their final report in French concluding the probable causes of the accident were:
insufficient control of flight parameters on very short final and flare, the captain continued the landing although airspeed reduced below Vref. The reflex inputs on the control stick caused a bounce, the extension of spoilers subsequently caused a touch down at too high a pitch angle.
Contributing factors were:
- the lack of callouts of (speed, pitch) deviations by the pilot monitoring
- the lack of indications of pitch angle limits on the PFD
- the lack of pilot training specific to the aircraft model
The BEA reported that between 100 feet AGL and touch down the head wind component decreased by 13 knots (and continued to decrease), the left crosswind component of 17 knots gusted up to 27 knots with no significant vertical wind component registered.
The BEA analysed that the approach was fully stabilized until 50 feet AGL. Just prior to initiating the flare the aircraft gets slightly high (above the glideslope), the airspeed drops to below 136 KIAS, however, there was no call from the pilot monitoring indicating the speed reducing below Vref. The speed reduction probably was the result of the decreasing head wind component, there was no adjustment of thrust levers. When the aircraft descended through 20 feet the back pressure on the stick did not arrest the resulting increasing sink rate but just increased the pitch angle to 8.4 degrees, led to hard touchdown (1.9G) and a bounce. The deflected spoilers increased the pitch angle to 9.1 degrees resulting in a tail strike. According to the aircraft manuals a tail strike would occur at 9.7 degrees pitch angle with the main gear fully compressed, the BEA argued that this discrepancy is likely the result of (certified) measurement inaccuracies of +/- 0.352 degrees for the pitch angle plus the bending of fuselage at touchdown.
The standard operating procedures of the airline required the pilot monitoring to call "PITCH" if the pitch angle exceeds 7.5 degrees, no such call was recorded however, the pitch angle reached and exceeded 7.5 degrees 2 seconds prior to first touchdown.
The BEA analysed that the A320 simulator experience, commonly used for the A321, can not be applied to the A321 due to the longer fuselage of the A321 especially with respect to landing geometry and performance.
A low bounced landing recovery would require to maintain normal landing attitude, NOT increase pitch angle, be aware the extension of spoilers creates a pitch up moment thus requiring the crew to not permit a pitch angle increase in order to avoid a tail strike and continue the landing keeping the engines at idle.
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
Read unlimited articles and receive our daily update briefing. Gain better insights into what is happening in commercial aviation safety.
Support AeroInside by sending a small tip amount.
A Joon Airbus A321-200 on behalf of Air France, registration F-GTAT performing flight AF-1204 from Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) to Rome Fiumicino…
The German BFU released their final report in German concluding the probable causes of the serious incident were:too high a speed during line up with…
An Air France Boeing 777-300, registration F-GSQH performing flight AF-90 from Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) to Miami,FL (USA), was descending…
An Air France Boeing 777-300, registration F-GSQL performing flight AF-662 from Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) with…
An Air France Airbus A320-200, registration F-HEPJ performing flight AF-9421 from Malaga,SP (Spain) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France), was on final…
An Air France Airbus A318-100, registration F-GUGJ performing flight AF-6141 from Toulouse to Paris Orly (France), was on approach to Orly when the…
An Air France Airbus A320-200, registration F-GKXJ performing flight AF-1623 from Munich (Germany) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (France), was…
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, registration N8709Q performing flight WN-1221 from Raleigh/Durham,NC to Chicago Midway,IL (USA) with 149…
A Condor Airbus A320-200, registration D-AICA performing flight DE-1523 from Las Palmas,CI (Spain) to Munich (Germany) with 176 people on board, was…
Are you researching aviation incidents? Get access to AeroInside Insights, unlimited read access and receive the daily newsletter.Pick your plan and subscribe
A new way to document and demonstrate airworthiness compliance and aircraft value. Find out more.
ELITE Simulation Solutions is a leading global provider of Flight Simulation Training Devices, IFR training software as well as flight controls and related services. Find out more.
Never miss an article from AeroInside. Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and join 5462 existing subscribers.
Popular aircraftAirbus A320
Boeing 737-800 MAX
Popular airlinesAmerican Airlines