Improper aircraft handling led to tail strikes during landing and go around of a Boeing 777F cargo plane, according to a Danish invesigation report.
On April 17, 2011 a Boeing 777-F6N cargo plane, of China Cargo Airlines sustained substantial damage in a tail strike accident at Copenhagen Airport, Denmark. A normal final approach was flown with the autopilot off and the auto throttle engaged.
During the flare the pilot flying started to correct the rate of decent by increasing the pitch attitude. At touchdown the pitch attitude was 4.6°, the computed airspeed was 143 knots, the vertical speed was 160 feet/min.
The aircraft touched down and bounced three times. After the first bounce, the ground spoilers automatically retracted and the auto braking system disarmed. A second bounce occurred followed by a third bounce. After the third bounce, the speed brakes handle was pulled either by the pilot flying or by thrust reverser command, which deployed the ground spoilers and the thrust reversers.
The reversers were deployed in 11 seconds. During the deceleration, the pitch angle gradually increased to 10.5° and the aircraft suffered a tailstrike. At the same time the pilot flying felt an increasing pitch up attitude and decided to initiate a go-around.
An initiation of a GA after thrust reverser activation is very risky and not an option according to the Boeing 777 Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM) and the Boeing 777 Flight Crew Training Manual (FCTM).
After the ground spoilers were retracted and the reversers were stowed, the pitch angle was decreased to 7.0°. At that time, the indicated airspeed was 117 knots. Engine power was applied and as the airspeed increased. The increase of the forward engine thrust caused a further nose up pitch moment, resulting in an increasing pitch angle of 11.9°.
During lift off the indicated airspeed (IAS) was 140 knots, which was 8 knots below the V2 calculated speed. The lower speed gave less lift and kept the main landing gear compressed. The result was less aft tail belly clearance, leading the second tail strike. During initial climb, the flight crew noticed a beeper aural warning and the tailstrike caution on the upper Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) display. The flight crew performed a tail strike Malfunction Check List and a Go Around Check List. The pilot not flying informed ATC about the go around and the tailstrike indication and that the pilots didn’t have control problems with the aircraft. A new approach was requested to runway 22L.The aircraft landed without further problems.
The damage in the belly section 47 and 48 was substantial and covered the area between stations 1980 in the front to station 2286 in the rear (approximately 8 meters). Several places on the fuselage skin were broken up and the inside of the aircraft was visible. The area at the aft dome pressure bulkhead was worn into the frame of the dome pressure bulkhead and there was visible damage in the frames and structure inside the aircraft.