British Airways A35K at London on Jan 2nd 2022, tail scrape on landing

Last Update: August 18, 2022 / 09:28:36 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 2, 2021

Classification
Incident

Flight number
BA-104

Aircraft Registration
G-XWBC

Aircraft Type
Airbus A350-1000

ICAO Type Designator
A35K

A British Airways Airbus A350-1000, registration G-XWBC performing flight BA-104 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to London Heathrow,EN (UK), was on approach to Heathrow's runway 27L when the tail contacted the runway surface. The crew initiated a go around, climbed back to 4000 feet and positioned for another approach to runway 27R. The aircraft landed without further incident on 27R about 15 minutes after the first approach.

The aircraft is still on the ground in London about 42 hours after landing.

On Jan 13th 2022 the AAIB reported the aircraft suffered a tail strike during the go around. The damage was rated minor (minor paint and sensor damage), the occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated.

On Aug 18th 2022 the AAIB released their final bulletin concluding the probable causes of the serious incident were:

A go-around was initiated from low height and low speed. The aircraft had insufficient energy to climb immediately and so touched down during the go-around process. The pitch rate induced by the co-pilot caused the aircraft to reach a nose up attitude sufficient to cause a tailstrike as the aircraft touched down.

The AAIB analysed:

Although the wind conditions at Heathrow were gusty, they were within limits for the approach. The approach was flown with the APs engaged until approximately 400 ft agl and then manually. The flare was initiated at 50 ft agl with the pitch attitude raised to 7° nose-up. This caused the rate of descent to reduce to 0 ft/min and so the aircraft floated along the runway. The thrust levers were retarded at 30 ft agl and the airspeed decreased with a concomitant reduction in lift. The aircraft then started to descend once more.

As the commander felt the aircraft would land beyond the TDZ, he directed a go-around in accordance with the operator’s policy. TOGA was selected on the thrust levers and, simultaneously, the co-pilot briefly applied full nose-up pitch control before partially reducing the command. This caused a pitch-up rate of approximately 3°/s. The aircraft touched down, and as the pitch attitude reached 9° nose-up the tail struck the ground.

The go-around was initiated before touchdown but as the engine thrust had been reduced to idle it took some seconds to develop go-around thrust. The airspeed had reduced significantly below approach speed and so the aircraft lacked the performance to gain height immediately and the touchdown resulted. This possibility is recognised in the FCTM which gives guidance for handling the aircraft in such circumstances.

From the point at which the go-around was initiated, 2,760 m of runway remained ahead of the aircraft, which would have been sufficient distance for the aircraft to land and safely decelerate. In these circumstances, it is unlikely that the control inputs that led to the significant pitch up would have been made and the aircraft might not have been damaged. However, landing would have been against the operator’s policy – common across all its fleets – to reject a landing if a touchdown beyond the defined TDZ is anticipated. The policy is applicable to a wide range of aircraft and airports, including many with restrictive runway lengths. The operator’s view was that a single policy ensures simplicity, avoids ambiguity, and includes a consideration that runway excursions represent a greater hazard than go-arounds.

Metars:
COR EGLL 021550Z AUTO 24018KT 9999 BKN023 12/08 Q1008 NOSIG=
COR EGLL 021520Z AUTO 24020G30KT 9999 FEW021/// BKN026/// BKN030/// //////CB 12/09 Q1008 TEMPO 4000 RA=
COR EGLL 021450Z AUTO 21012KT 9999 -RA SCT020/// BKN041/// //////CB 12/10 Q1008 NOSIG=
EGLL 021420Z AUTO 21013KT 9999 -RA BKN020/// BKN029/// //////CB 12/09 Q1008 TEMPO 4000 RA BKN014=
COR EGLL 021350Z AUTO 22010KT 9999 SCT018/// BKN024/// //////TCU 12/10 Q1009 TEMPO 4000 RA BKN012=
COR EGLL 021320Z AUTO 22009KT 190V250 9999 -RA FEW009/// BKN013/// OVC032/// //////TCU 11/10 Q1009 RERA REDZ TEMPO 4000 RA=
COR EGLL 021250Z AUTO 22010KT 190V260 4900 RADZ SCT012 BKN019 BKN023 11/09 Q1010 TEMPO BKN012=
COR EGLL 021220Z AUTO 23011KT 9999 BKN022 BKN030 12/08 Q1010 NOSIG=
COR EGLL 021150Z AUTO 24015KT 9999 BKN019 11/08 Q1011 NOSIG=
COR EGLL 021120Z AUTO 24017KT 9999 BKN019 OVC030 12/08 Q1011 NOSIG=
COR EGLL 021050Z AUTO 23013KT 9999 BKN021 12/08 Q1011 NOSIG=
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 2, 2021

Classification
Incident

Flight number
BA-104

Aircraft Registration
G-XWBC

Aircraft Type
Airbus A350-1000

ICAO Type Designator
A35K

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