Easyjet A319 at London on Feb 14th 2012, severe hard touch down

Last Update: January 10, 2013 / 17:28:44 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 14, 2012

Classification
Report

Airline
Easyjet

Flight number
U2-2016

Aircraft Registration
G-EZFV

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

An Easyjet Airbus A319-100, registration G-EZFV performing flight U2-2016 from Faro (Portugal) to London Luton,EN (UK) with 142 passengers and 6 crew, was on a final ILS approach to Luton Airport's runway 26 when just prior to touchdown both pilots sensed the aircraft was rapidly descending, a go-around was initiated by both pilots producing conflicting control inputs. The aircraft touched down with all three gear struts simultaneously at 750 fpm sinkrate producing a vertical acceleration of +2.99G before climbing out again. The aircraft positioned for another approach and landed safely. The aircraft sustained substantial damage to all gear struts requiring the replacement of all gear struts.

The British Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) released their Bulletin into the accident concluding:

Both pilots responded to an increased rate of descent approaching touchdown and each initiated a TOGA 10 go-around. Their initial sidestick inputs were in opposition and, without the use of the takeover sidestick pushbutton, the net effect was a pitch-down control input. If the commander had operated the sidestick takeover pushbutton, his nose-up pitch input would not have been counteracted by the nose-down input of the Capt U/T. In the event, his control input reduced the effect of the nose-down input made by the Capt U/T.

The AAIB reported that the vertical acceleration of +2.99G established a severe hard touch down and brought all gear legs above their certified maximum loads. All three gear legs had to be replaced as a result.

The captain (37, ATPL, 3,998 hours total, 652 hours on type) was under training occupying the left hand seat and was pilot flying. The commander of the aircraft was a training captain (45, ATPL, 10,700 hours total, 500 hours on type) occupying the right hand seat as pilot monitoring.

The aircraft was being vectored onto the localizer and was cleared for the ILS approach to runway 26 when upon intercepting the localizer the pilot flying realised they were high on the approach profile and would need to intercept the glideslope from above the glidepath. The pilot flying extended the landing gear and selected flaps 2, then armed the localiser mode on the autopilot and attempted to arm the approach mode but inadvertently selected the expedite climb push button. To avoid the aircraft climbing away he disengaged autopilot and autothrust. The aircraft went through the localizer, ATC provided another vector to permit the aircraft intercept the localizer again from the south.

The pilot flying thus decided to continue the approach manually. The aircraft was established on the localizer 5.5nm before touchdown and was configured for landing with flaps full at 5nm out. Winds were reported from 320 degrees at 15 knots, the wind conditions however gusty and produced some turbulence. The aircraft was fully established and stabilized while descending through 1000 feet and 500 feet AGL.

The approach remained stabilized until below 50 feet AGL, Vapp at 129 KIAS. Just below 50 feet the flight data recorder recorded a nose up input followed by two nose down inputs resulting in an increase of the rate of descent from 600 to 850 feet per minute. Below 30 feet both pilots sensed the aircraft was descending rapidly and both initiated a go-around applying the TOGA balked landing procedure.

The pilot flying momentarily retarded the throttles to idle then pushed them forward to the TOGA detent, at the same time he made a full forward nose down side stick input which was reversed to a full backward nose up within a second. At the same time the commander, pilot monitoring, made a full backward nose up input reaching the mechanical stop within a second. He announced "I have control", the aircraft touched firmly down with all three gear struts simultaneously before lifting off again and climbing out. The captain under training relinquished control after the aircraft began to climb out again and reverted to the role of pilot monitoring while the commander assumed the role of pilot flying.

The commander positioned the aircraft for another approach and landed the aircraft without further incident.

The AAIB reported the captain under training had already completed 9 sectors in command training without incidents and all training reports had been positive. He had undergone also TOGA balked landing training in the simulator, but had never flown that maneouver in the real aircraft before.

The commander was experienced in providing line training on another aircraft type, however, had limited experience on the Airbus A320 family aircraft. He too had done TOGA balked landings in the simulator, but had never flown a balked landing in any of the real aircraft before.

The AAIB stated that the flight crew operating manual of the operator required: "If a take-over becomes necessary during flight, the PNF (editorial note: pilot not flying=pilot monitoring) must call clearly “I have control”, and press the sidestick priority pushbutton, keeping it pressed until the transfer of control is clearly established. During critical phases of flight the PNF should be in a position to takeover, this may be achieved by resting the hand on the console or indeed on the stick itself but it is imperative that no input is made on the sidestick."

The AAIB analysed that although there was increased work load during intercept exacerbated by the inadvertent selection of expedite climb button, the aircraft however was configured and fully stabilized for the final approach. At 60 feet the attitude momentarily decreased and at 50 feet the sink rate increased with the attitude increasing again. In response the pilot flying made two brief nose down inputs and the attitide decreased again. One or all of these factors may have created the impression the aircraft was rapidly descending prompting both pilots to initiate a go around.

Over a period of four seconds dual conflicting input occurred until the commander established sole control. The commander did not press the takeover pushbutton, so his nose up inputs could only reduce the magnitude of the captain's nose down input. The AAIB analysed: "If the commander had used the sidestick takeover pushbutton the severe hard landing may have been prevented."

The AAIB further analysed: "In attempting to carry out the TOGA 10 manoeuvre, the Capt U/T appears to have made a sidestick input opposite to that expected and there was also a brief retardation of the thrust levers before they were pushed forward to the TOGA position. One possible explanation is that there was momentary confusion between the actions of his left and right hands."

The AAIB reported that both pilots underwent additional training before they returned to line flight. The captain under training returned to line duty as a first officer for a period of time.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 14, 2012

Classification
Report

Airline
Easyjet

Flight number
U2-2016

Aircraft Registration
G-EZFV

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

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