Narrative:The aircraft was operating a scheduled service from Zurich (ZRH) to London City Airport (LCY) with the commander as the pilot flying, which was in accordance with the operator’s requirements for landings at LCY. The weather forecast indicated southerly winds of 10 kt, with short periods of rain. The aircraft was fully configured for the landing, prior to intercepting the glideslope for the ILS approach to runway 28. The glideslope was intercepted at 3,000 ft and the autopilot was disconnected at 1,300 ft. The last surface wind reported by the tower before landing was from 190º at 10 kt. As the automated radio altitude calls were announced at 50 and 30 ft the pilots sensed that the aircraft was dropping suddenly. The commander pulled the control column back and the aircraft touched down on the aft fuselage with a bump, before landing on the mainwheels. At touchdown the pitch attitude reached 9.3º nose up and a 2.3g normal acceleration was recorded. Neither the pilots nor the cabin crew were aware that there had been a tailstrike, although the rear cabin crew member reported that there had been a loud noise on touchdown.
An inspection revealed that significant structural damage had occurred to the lower fuselage in the area of the aft cargo hold between frames 35 to 43 and stringers 27 port to 27 starboard.
During the approach, at 50 ft and 35 ft, the aircraft was some 4 kt below target speed. At this point the thrust levers were retarded to idle and the recorded groundspeed reduced, without a corresponding decrease in the airspeed, indicating a loss of headwind or an increased tailwind component. The aircraft was already in a low energy state; then thrust was reduced and this reduction, and the loss of headwind component, both made the situation worse.
A combination of these factors reduced the energy of the aircraft, which was felt as a ‘sink’ by the pilots, and the commander responded by pulling back to prevent a hard landing. It was this, probably instinctive, pull back on the column that caused the pitch attitude to increase to 9.3º at the point of touchdown.
» Damage to Swiss Air's RJ100 after hard landing at London City (Flightglobal.com, 31-8-2007)
» AAIB Bulletin 8/2008
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 Zürich-Kloten Airport to London City Airport as the crow flies is 754 km (471 miles).