British Airways A321 at Glasgow on Jul 19th 2015, tailstrike on landing

Last Update: July 14, 2016 / 14:45:25 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 19, 2015


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

A British Airways Airbus A321-200, registration G-EUXF performing flight BA-1498 from London Heathrow,EN to Glasgow,SC (UK) with 200 passengers and 7 crew, landed on Glasgow's runway 23 but struck its tail onto the runway. The aircraft rolled out without further incident. There were no injuries, the aircraft sustained substantial damage however.

On Jul 27th 2015 the aircraft was able to position to Madrid as flight BA-9275 reaching up to FL390. The aircraft is to receive further maintenance in Madrid.

On Jul 28th 2015 the French BEA reported in their weekly bulletin, that the AAIB is investigating the occurrence rated an accident.

On Jul 14th 2016 the AAIB released their bulletin concluding the probable causes of the accident were:

The technical and training measures put in place by the manufacturer have been effective in reducing the tailstrike rate on the global fleet over the last ten years.

It is difficult to pinpoint a precise reason why this tailstrike occurred. As described in the manufacturer’s bulletins, it is likely to have been the result of a combination of factors.

These include an airspeed which had reduced below the target towards VLS, and an initial tentative but progressive flare input which did not sufficiently alter the flightpath of the aircraft. Although the initial touchdown was at a high pitch attitude, probably the most significant contributor to the tailstrike was the continued aft sidestick input after touchdown, which resulted in the pitch attitude continuing to increase.

The AAIB reported the first officer (302 hours total, 143 hours on type) was pilot flying, the commander (54, ATPL, 10,980 hours total, 6,864 hours on type) was pilot monitoring. The aircraft was on approach to Glasgow's runway 23 in calm weather conditions.

The first officer disconnected the autopilot and continued the approach manually with autothrust engaged, Vref was 140 KIAS and Vapp was 145 KIAS.

At 50 feet AGL the first officer initiated the flare providing progressive backward sidestick pressure, at 25 feet AGL the thrust levers were closed. Sensing that the pitch attitude had not increased sufficiently the first officer provided further nose up input.

On touchdown the captain looked down to the thrust levers in order to select reverse thrust preventing the captain to notice a slight bounce after the aircraft had made ground contact at 138 KIAS and 7.4 degrees nose up pitch producing +1.5G vertical acceleration and with the ground spoilers deploying. Although the nose up commands were reduced there was still an aft pressure on the side stick, the aircraft increased its pitch attitude and became airborne again for a brief period touching down a second time at 9.5 degrees nose up and +1.7G. The captain commented "ok push the nose down", but it was too late to prevent the tail contacting the runway surface. Reverse thrust was selected 4 seconds after second touchdown.

After arrival at the gate cabin crew informed the flight deck about unusual noises heard in the aft of the cabin during touchdown, soon after a ground mechanic arrived reporting damage to the aircraft.

The AAIB wrote: "Air Traffic Control (ATC) were contacted by a member of the public who had seen sparks coming from the aircraft as it landed. On receipt of this information, a runway inspection was ordered and carried out. A scrape mark was seen on the runway surface but there was no sign of any debris."

With respect to the first officer the AAIB wrote: "It was noted in line-training records that the landings were inconsistent, so an additional simulator training detail was incorporated into the training programme. Following this, the line-training was continued and completed successfully on 13 July 2015. The co-pilot flew a total of 60 sectors during line-training, of which 13 sectors were on an Airbus A321. Ten further line sectors were flown before the accident flight, none of which were on an A321. The co-pilot was aware of the potential for a tailstrike on the A321 but recalled being advised during training that 11° nose-up was the pitch attitude for ground contact on landing."

The AAIB analysed:

As the aircraft descended below 150 ft agl the pitch was increased slightly and the airspeed gradually reduced below VAPP, reaching a combination of 4° nose-up pitch attitude and 141 kt (VLS) at the flare height. The thrust increased but not by enough to maintain the target airspeed. At the flare height, the aircraft energy state was lower than that seen in a typical previous flight. This was further reduced by the thrust levers being retarded to idle.

The pitch attitude of 4° nose-up at 50 ft, before the flare was initiated, was higher than average and consequently the nose-down pitch rate (6° over 8 s) targeted by the flare mode would have been above average. Therefore, the feedback from the initial aft sidestick input by the co-pilot may have felt stronger than usual. The sidestick input was small at first, but progressive, and the pitch attitude correspondingly increased. However, the initial input was not positive enough to check the rate of descent, which did not significantly reduce before touchdown, leading to a firm touchdown.

The aircraft touched down with a nose-up pitch attitude of 7.4°, just less than the 7.5° threshold at which the PM is required announce ‘pitch’. The aft sidestick input was then reduced but some nose-up demand was maintained. The pitch attitude remained at 7.4° for a second then continued to increase. The ground spoilers deployed and the pitch attitude was still increasing as the aircraft briefly lifted off again. The commander looked down at some point to select reverse thrust which may have diverted his attention from the increasing pitch attitude.

The pitch attitude only increased through 7.5° after the first touchdown. Within two seconds, the maximum pitch attitude was reached as the aft fuselage struck the ground. With any rapidly increasing pitch attitude, the SOP monitoring call becomes correspondingly less effective.

The operator’s requirement for the PM to select reverse thrust after touchdown is a variation from the manufacturer’s procedures. A glance down to locate the thrust levers could have diverted the commander’s attention from the visual observation of the landing phase, although during this landing reverse thrust was not selected until after the second touchdown.

The advice from the manufacturer in the event of a bounced landing is that any tendency to pitch up must be controlled. However, in practice it is not necessarily apparent to flight crew when an aircraft has bounced and neither crew member perceived the bounce.

EGPF 192320Z 26004KT CAVOK 10/08 Q1009
EGPF 192250Z 26003KT CAVOK 10/08 Q1009
EGPF 192220Z 28003KT CAVOK 11/09 Q1009
EGPF 192150Z AUTO 22005KT 9999 NCD 11/08 Q1008
EGPF 192120Z 25005KT CAVOK 11/09 Q1008
EGPF 192050Z AUTO 24005KT 9999 FEW002 12/09 Q1008
EGPF 192020Z AUTO 23005KT 9999 NCD 13/10 Q1008
EGPF 191950Z AUTO 25007KT 9999 FEW001 15/10 Q1008
EGPF 191920Z AUTO 26006KT 9999 NCD 16/10 Q1008
EGPF 191850Z AUTO 26007KT 9999 SCT046 16/10 Q1007
EGPF 191820Z AUTO 26008KT 9999 FEW032 BKN044 17/10 Q1007
EGPF 191750Z AUTO 26008KT 9999 FEW032 BKN042 17/10 Q1007
EGPF 191720Z AUTO 29008KT 9999 BKN032 18/10 Q1007
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jul 19, 2015


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator

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