ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A320-214 HB-IJB London-Heathrow Airport (LHR)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Tuesday 3 December 2013
Type:Silhouette image of generic A320 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A320-214
Operator:Swiss International Air Lines
Registration: HB-IJB
MSN: 545
First flight: 1995-06-20 (18 years 6 months)
Engines: 2 CFMI CFM56-5B4
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 57
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 64
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) (   United Kingdom)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Zürich-Kloten Airport (ZRH/LSZH), Switzerland
Destination airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
An Airbus A320-214 operated by Swiss International Air Lines sustained damage in a tail strike accident during landing on runway 27R at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR).
The aircraft was operating a routine passenger schedule from Zurich to London Heathrow. The weather was good with light and variable winds and no low cloud. The pilot flying, in the right seat, was completing line training, having recently converted to the A320 series. He had a total of 292 flying hours, of which 138 on the A320. The commander, an experienced Type Rating Examiner, was the pilot monitoring.
The commander reported that the aircraft was on a stable approach, with full flap. The co-pilot smoothly commenced the flare at the correct height; however, at about 10 ft radio altitude he made an additional nose-up sidestick input. This resulted in an unusually high pitch attitude and, as the airspeed washed off, the aircraft started to sink. The co-pilot countered with an additional nose-up input as the main landing gear touched down. The ground spoilers automatically deployed and the pitch attitude continued to rise to a maximum of 12.3°, causing the tail to strike the runway.
As the ground spoilers deployed the commander attempted to counter the increasing pitch with a large forward sidestick input. However, he did not press the ‘take over’ button and the flight control software summed the inputs of the two sidesticks. As the co-pilot reduced his sidestick pitch input, the aircraft pitched down to 0° in three seconds.
The aircraft taxied clear of the runway and the right engine was shut down to allow a safe path for inspection of the aircraft by the RFFS. They identified paint damage and scratching of the aft fuselage and the commander decided not to start the APU. The aircraft was then positioned to its normal gate for passenger disembarkation, before being withdrawn from service for minor repairs.
The lower fuselage skin, frames and butt splice between frames 67 and 72 were abraded by contact with the runway. At frame 70, deformation of the lower pressure bulkhead was noted 250 mm either side of the centreline and a 190 mm long crack was found on the lower ring frame assembly.

The airplane was ferried back to Zurich unpressurised on December 12 at 9000 feet. After final repairs were completed the airplane was back in service on February 7, 2014.

Probable Cause:

The AAIB did not conduct a full formal investigation

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: AAIB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 282 days (9 months)
Accident number: AAIB Bulletin: 9/2014
Download report: Final report

Runway mishap


photo of Airbus-A320-214-HB-IJB
accident date: 03-12-2013
type: Airbus A320-214
registration: HB-IJB
photo of Airbus-A320-214-HB-IJB
accident date: 03-12-2013
type: Airbus A320-214
registration: HB-IJB

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-Heathrow Airport as the crow flies is 783 km (489 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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