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Inadequate bounce recovery training program factor in Airbus A321 tailstrike accident
24 January 2015
Tailstrike damage on the rear fuselage of the A321 (photo: ARAIB)

Tailstrike damage on the rear fuselage of the A321 (photo: ARAIB)

The South Korean Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board (ARAIB) published the final report of their investigation into a tail strike accident involving an Airbus A321 landing at Seoul-Incheon Airport.

On April 16, 2013, at 15:46 hours, Asiana Airlines flight OZ340 took off from Harbin, China bound for Seoul-Incheon, South Korea. The climb and cruise phases of the flight were uneventful. At 17:20, having descended to FL150, the captain, who was Pilot Flying, handed over controls to the first officer to enable him to manually fly the remainder of the descent until final approach although the first officer had voiced his concerns as he had not yet accumulated 100 hours on the A321 since his checkride.
The descent was continued as the airplane was positioned for an ILS approach to runway 16. At 17:34 the tower controller reported the ceiling at the airport to be 200 feet. At that time the captain took over control from the first officer and became Pilot Flying again. At minimums the captain reported seeing the runway and stated, “continue, in sight.” The airspeed then decreased to below the planned Vapp of 138 knots. At 17:37 the airplane passed the threshold at 131 knots. The airplane touched down 155 meters past the threshold at a speed of 136 knots and a vertical gravity of 1,965 g. Pitch angle was 6.7° and touchdown occurred at an angle of attack of 15.5°. The aircraft bounced as thrust was increased, touching down again about 491 meters from the threshold. Pitch angle was 10.9° and the angle of attack was 23.2° with a vertical gravity of 1.715 g. The underside of the tail contacted the runway, causing substantial abrasion damage 100 cm wide and 600 cm long, including wear-through. Eleven interior frames were cracked.

The Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board (ARAIB) determined that the causes of this accident were:
1) The pilot flying (PF) failed to maintain the proper approach speed until the flare just before touchdown, and the airplane bounced on touchdown since higher-than-normal vertical gravity was applied due to a high sink rate and increased thrust and speed just before touchdown; and
2) The airplane made a second touchdown at the pitch attitude exceeding an A321 airplane’s limitation and sustained a tail strike since the PF failed to keep thrust at idle and establish the proper pitch attitude during the bounce.

Contributing to this accident were:
1) the inadequate training program dealing with the recovery form the bounce;
2) lack of pre-landing preparation due to a failure to conduct an approach briefing on pitch attitude;
3) the PF’s failure to properly allocate his attention due to his delegation of flight control to the pilot monitoring (PM) who failed to meet flight control requirements;
4) the PM’s inadequate advice and monitoring due to the PF’s failure to make standard callouts;
5) the disconnection of the autothrottle and a failure to manually control thrust and speed; and
6) a failure to execute a go-around when stabilized approach criteria are not met.

Major FDR parameters during final approach and touchdown (ARAIB)

Major FDR parameters during final approach and touchdown (ARAIB)

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