Sunday, April 29, 2012


Srinivas Rao | 12:05 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
A tail strike is deemed to have occurred when the tail of an aircraft touches the runway during takeoff or landing. Long aircraft are more prone to this and this would result in significant structural damage to the aircraft and jeopardise the safety of the flight.Statistically, there are more tail strikes during landing than at takeoff.(Airbus)

Let's focus on tail strike on takeoff. Typically, this occurs on takeoff due to improper rotation technique and more likely due to premature rotation  i.e. rotation being executed at a lower speed than the correct rotation speed for that particular flight. A times, there is a possibility of crew not feeling the impact of tail scrapping the runway gently on takeoff. In such cases with no untoward indications or cabin reports, flight crew invariably continues the flight to destination only to be discovered on the walk around on the ground. In our previous post on avoiding bird strike on takeoff, premature rotation to avoid bird strike was cited as one of the reasons for tail strike.

Going forward, the adverse effect of premature rotation  is reinforced with the recent tail strike on takeoff on March 14, 2012 of  Wizzair Ukraine Airbus A320-200, registration UR-WUA performing flight WU-6102 from Memmingen (Germany) to Kiev Zhulhany (Ukraine. It is reported that Captain rotated at 104 kts instead of rotation at 144 kts,in order to avoid collision with rabbits on the runway. Increase in pitch attitude for rotation  at lower speeds than Vr is a sure recipe for tail strike.The crew continued to destination as systems indicated normal and only to discover of tail strike at destination.This tail strike is also unique in the sense the crew had to negotiate between avoiding rabbits to contain damage and tail strike on the other.

What would you have done in a similar situation, ignore the rabbits and rotate at normal speed and expose yourself to the collision with the rabbits or rotate early but not as early as it was done on the above flight????

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