Accident description
Last updated: 21 November 2014
Status:Final
Date:Friday 20 March 2009
Time:22:32
Type:Silhouette image of generic A345 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A340-541
Operator:Emirates Airlines
Registration: A6-ERG
C/n / msn: 608
First flight: 2004-11-04 (4 years 5 months)
Total airframe hrs:22526
Cycles:2598
Engines: 4 Rolls-Royce Trent 553A2-61
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 18
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 257
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 275
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, VIC (MEL) (   Australia)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, VIC (MEL/YMML), Australia
Destination airport:Dubai Airport (DXB/OMDB), United Arab Emirates
Flightnumber: 407
Narrative:
At 22:31 local time, an Airbus A340-500 aircraft, registered A6-ERG, commenced the take-off roll on runway 16 at Melbourne Airport (MEL) on a scheduled, passenger flight (EK407) to Dubai (DXB), United Arab Emirates. The takeoff was planned as a reduced-power takeoff and the first officer was the handling pilot for the departure. At 22:31:53, the captain called for the first officer to rotate. The first officer attempted to rotate the aircraft, but it did not respond immediately with a nose-up pitch. The captain again called 'rotate' and the first officer applied a greater nose-up command. The nose of the aircraft was raised and the tail made contact with the runway surface, but the aircraft did not begin to climb. The captain then selected TOGA on the thrust levers, the engines responded immediately, and the aircraft commenced a climb.
The crew notified air traffic control of the tail strike and that they would be returning to Melbourne. While reviewing the aircraft’s performance documentation in preparation for landing, the crew noticed that a take-off weight, which was 100 tonnes below the actual take-off weight of the aircraft, had inadvertently been used when completing the take-off performance calculation. The result of that incorrect take-off weight was to produce a thrust setting and take-off reference speeds that were lower than those required for the actual aircraft weight.
The aircraft subsequently landed at Melbourne with no reported injuries. The tail strike resulted in substantial damage to the tail of the aircraft and damaged some airport lighting and the instrument landing system.
As a result of the accident, the aircraft operator has advised the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that it is reviewing a number of procedures including human factors involved in take-off performance data entry.


CONTRIBUTING SAFETY FACTORS:
- The first officer inadvertently entered the incorrect take-off weight into the electronic flight bag to calculate the take-off performance parameters for the flight.
- The captain was distracted while checking the take-off performance figures in the electronic flight bag, which resulted in him not detecting the incorrect take-off weight.
- During the pre-departure phase, the flight crew did not complete all of the tasks in the standard operating procedures, which contributed to them not detecting the error.
- When conducting the loadsheet confirmation procedure, the first officer called out 362.9 tonnes as the FLEX take-off weight, rather than the 262.9 tonnes that was recorded on the master flight plan, which removed an opportunity for the captain to detect the error.
- The first officer changed the first digit of the FLEX take-off weight on the master flight plan during the loadsheet confirmation procedure, believing it had been transcribed incorrectly, which removed an opportunity for the flight crew to detect the error.
- The lack of a designated position in the pre-flight documentation to record the green dot speed precipitated a number of informal methods of recording that value, lessening the effectiveness of the green dot check within the loadsheet confirmation procedure. [Minor safety issue]
- The flight crew’s mixed fleet flying routinely exposed them to large variations in take-off weights and take-off performance parameters, which adversely influenced their ability to form an expectation of the ‘reasonableness’ of the calculated take-off performance parameters

CONTRIBUTING SAFETY FACTORS:
- The first officer inadvertently entered the incorrect take-off weight into the electronic flight bag to calculate the take-off performance parameters for the flight.
- The captain was distracted while checking the take-off performance figures in the electronic flight bag, which resulted in him not detecting the incorrect take-off weight.
- During the pre-departure phase, the flight crew did not complete all of the tasks in the standard operating procedures, which contributed to them not detecting the error.
- When conducting the loadsheet confirmation procedure, the first officer called out 362.9 tonnes as the FLEX take-off weight, rather than the 262.9 tonnes that was recorded on the master flight plan, which removed an opportunity for the captain to detect the error.
- The first officer changed the first digit of the FLEX take-off weight on the master flight plan during the loadsheet confirmation procedure, believing it had been transcribed incorrectly, which removed an opportunity for the flight crew to detect the error.
- The lack of a designated position in the pre-flight documentation to record the green dot speed precipitated a number of informal methods of recording that value, lessening the effectiveness of the green dot check within the loadsheet confirmation procedure. [Minor safety issue]
- The flight crew’s mixed fleet flying routinely exposed them to large variations in take-off weights and take-off performance parameters, which adversely influenced their ability to form an expectation of the ‘reasonableness’ of the calculated take-off performance parameters

Classification:
Wrong takeoff configuration (flaps/trim)
Forced landing on runway

Sources:

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) - Australia
report status: Preliminary
report number: ATSB AO-2009-012
report released:30-APR-2009
duration of investigation:41 days (1.4 months)
download report: Tail Strike Melbourne Airport, Vic. 20 March 2009 A6-ERG Airbus A340-500 (ATSB AO-2009-012)
cover

investigating agency: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) - Australia
report status: Preliminary
report number: AO-2009-012
report released:18-DEC-2009
duration of investigation:273 days (9.1 months)
download report: Tailstrike Melbourne Airport, Vic. 20 March 2009 A6-ERG Airbus A340-541 (ATSB AO-2009-012)
cover

investigating agency: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) - Australia
report status: Final
report number: AO-2009-012
report released:16-DEC-2011
duration of investigation:1001 days (2 years 9 months)
download report: Tailstrike and runway overrun - Airbus A340-541, A6-ERG, Melbourne Airport, Victoria, 20 March 2009 (ATSB AO-2009-012)

Follow-up / safety actions

ATSB issued 1 Safety Recommendation

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

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Map
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 Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, VIC to Dubai Airport as the crow flies is 11613 km (7258 miles).

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