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Last updated: 18 October 2019
Status:Final
Date:Friday 14 November 2003
Time:12:50
Type:Silhouette image of generic B744 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 747-422
Operator:United Airlines
Registration: N178UA
C/n / msn: 24385/820
First flight: 1990-10-23 (13 years )
Total airframe hrs:57337
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney PW4056
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 21
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 335
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 356
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO) (   United States of America)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO/KSFO), United States of America
Destination airport:Hong Kong-Chek Lap Kok International Airport (HKG/VHHH), Hong Kong
Flightnumber:UA805
Narrative:
United Airlines Flight 805, a Boeing 747-422, N178UA, experienced a tail strike on rotation at San Francisco, California, USA.
The first officer was the Pilot Flying (PF), and the airplane departed on runway 10L. The winds were 180 at 16, gusting to 22 knots. The takeoff roll was normal, and the PF utilized control wheel input to correct for the crosswind. A few seconds after rotation, the PF noted the stick shaker annunciate, and responded by gently easing back pressure off the control yoke. The captain and a relief pilot felt a nose wheel vibration following the takeoff.
The air traffic control tower contacted the flight crew alerting them of a possible tail strike after observing smoke from the airplane at rotation. The crew returned to land at San Francisco. Evaluation of the damage resulted in structural repair to two structural members.

Probable Cause:

A tail strike due to a combination of the wind shifting from a headwind to a tailwind during rotation, and the pilot's control inputs for the crosswind condition.

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 3 years and 5 months
Accident number: LAX04LA050
Download report: Final report

Classification:
Tailstrike
Runway mishap

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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 San Francisco International Airport, CA to Hong Kong-Chek Lap Kok International Airport as the crow flies is 11053 km (6908 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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