ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A320-212 LZ-BHC Verona Airport (VRN)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Tuesday 1 September 2009
Type:Silhouette image of generic A320 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A320-212
Operating for:Air Vallée
Leased from:BH Air
Registration: LZ-BHC
MSN: 349
First flight: 1992-06-30 (17 years 2 months)
Total airframe hrs:51963
Engines: 2 CFMI CFM56-5A3
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 87
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 94
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:Verona Airport (VRN) (   Italy)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Verona Airport (VRN/LIPX), Italy
Destination airport:Roma-Fiumicino Airport (FCO/LIRF), Italy
Air Vallée flight 5378, an Airbus A320-212, experienced a tail strike during takeoff from Verona Airport, Italy.
The aircraft was operated under a wet lease agreement between Air Vallée and BH Air.
The aircraft was operating a multiple destination flight originated in Hurghada, Egypt (HEGN), having an intermediate stop in Verona and a final destination of Rome-Fiumicino (LIRF).
At departure from Hurgada, 77 passengers with destination Verona were seated in the forward and central cabin and 87 passengers with destination Rome Fiumicino were mainly seated in the central and aft cabin. Baggage and cargo with destination Verona were located in the forward (no. 1) compartment while those with destination Rome Fiumicino were located in the aft (no. 3) cargo compartment.
After landing in Verona only passengers, baggage and cargo with final destination Verona were disembarked.
Before takeoff from Verona the captain received an approved Load and Trim sheet from the handling agent and where the seating of the transit passengers was different from that of the incoming flight, equally balancing their distribution on board in the three cabin areas. This was not detected or not considered by the captain, as the passengers remained in the same seats they had occupied in the previous flight.
The captain decided that no refueling was necessary and the aircraft departed from Verona with 87 passengers seated, as per their original seats assignment in Hurgada, mainly in the center and aft cabin, and with remaining baggage and cargo in the after (no. 3) cargo compartment where it was originally loaded in Hurgada.
During the initial part of the take off run, as soon as the throttle levers were advanced to FLEX position, the aircraft started an uncommanded early rotation causing a tail strike on the runway.
The takeoff run was continued with subsequent degradation of flight control laws to alternate law and direct law. The aircraft lifted off at 113 kts and immediately after lift off a stall warning activation occurred for about 5 seconds.
The aircraft continued the takeoff and climb until the activation of the master warning related to pressurization system fault occurred, at this time the crew decided to return to Verona where the aircraft landed with no further problems.
Inspections on ground revealed extensive structural damages to the lower part of the tail fuselage compromising the pressurized compartment.

Probable Cause:

CAUSES (translated from Italian):
The cause of the accident is due to human factors. In particular, the incident was triggered by an uneven aircraft loading from the approved Load and Trim Sheet, relative to the position of the passengers on board, which resulted in a position of the center of gravity outside the rear limit of certification for the take-off for a mass of 56 t, the condition in which the A320 LZ-BHC was found.

The following factors contributed to the event:
- the absence of specific procedures for the aircraft operator, related to the loading of aircraft (passengers, baggage and cargo) in the case of flights with multiple destinations;
- the absence of pre-established and recognized mechanisms of notice to the captain that the allocation of seats on board between the original flight (Hurghada-Verona) and the final destination (Verona-Rome) had to be significantly modified to maintain the position of the center of gravity within the limits allowed for take-off;
- the absence of a verification of the actual correspondence between the aircraft loading condition indicated in the Load and Trim Sheet approved with respect to the actual configuration on board.

Furthermore, it is believed that the failure to timely stop the take-off procedure at the start of the anomaly in the aircraft's controllability contributed to a greater exposure to the criticality triggered by the loading of the aircraft different from the approved Load and Trim Sheet.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: ANSV
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 8 years and 4 months
Accident number: Final report
Download report: Final report

Runway mishap

Follow-up / safety actions

ANSV issued 2 Safety Recommendations

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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 Verona Airport to Roma-Fiumicino Airport as the crow flies is 411 km (257 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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