Narrative:Sabena flight SN542 departed New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) on a transatlantic flight to Brussel-Zaventem Airport (BRU). The en route part of the flight was uneventful.
An ATIS message at Brussels reported that the glide slope for Runway 25L was inoperative. The pilot decided to make a non-precision VOR/DME approach. The Autopilot, Autothrust and the Flight Director were selected to OFF, Autobrakes set on LOW. Flight path angle (Bird) is selected ON.
At 2000 ft, the pilot had good visual contact with the runway. The flaps were selected to position 2 and the speed reduced to 160 KTS. At this point, the pilot realized that the glide slope was operational again. At 5 NM from the BUB VOR, the pilot notes that the glide slope was correct and ordered the landing gear down. There was no indication of any problem with the landing gear. The flaps were then selected successively at positions 3 and 4.
At 1200 ft, the aircraft was fully established and shortly afterwards the pilot received permission to land on runway 25L.
At very short final (100 to 200 ft) the pilot noted that the wind was 330° at 15 KTS while the tower had reported a wind of 260° at 5 KTS. The pilot took account of this and prepared for a crosswind landing with a wind coming from the right.
The landing was normal at a speed of 131 KTS with the airplane touching down on the right hand main gear, followed almost instantly by the left landing gear. During touchdown, the pilots noted an unusual noise followed by low vibrations. The thrust reversers on all four engines were activated. The nose of the aircraft sank faster than usual and the vibrations increased. The aircraft began to drift to the right, which was corrected using rudder.
Suddenly, heavy vibration and a shock were felt and the aircraft drifted to the right. The pilot could not maintain course and the aircraft left the runway and stopped at the intersection C3. Just before leaving the runway, thrust reversers were stowed and all four engines were cut using the master switches. The ECAM then displayed a fire alarm on engine no. 4 and a red light for the right main landing gear (not locked). The first officer radioed a mayday call and the captain ordered an emergency evacuation. The fire switches were activated and bottles discharged. The emergency services were quickly on site and began to spray the right wing, using foam. No fire erupted.
It appeared that the right main landing gear had separated completely. It struck and damaged the right hand horizontal stabilizer.
CAUSES PROBABLES DE L’ACCIDENT: "L’origine de la rupture du train d’atterrissage droit est dû à une crique de fatigue qui s’est développée dans une zone de hautes contraintes causées lors de certaines manoeuvres au sol."
translation from original French-language report:
PROBABLE CAUSES OF THE ACCIDENT: "The origin of the rupture of the right landing gear was due to a fatigue crack that was
developed in an area of high stresses caused during certain maneuvers on the ground."
» Rapport d’enquete etabli suite a l’accident survenu a Bruxelles National le 29 Aout 1998 a l’avion Airbus A340 immatricule OO-SCW
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY to Brussel-Zaventem Airport as the crow flies is 5845 km (3653 miles).