View Full Version : Malaysian Tail Strike on take off at Zurich

Passenger 9
29th Jul 2004, 07:54
Wednesday July 28th 2004

Tail Strike on departure ! ROTATE !!!

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6(ER)

A B777 made a big thing out of a Normal Take off! Tail Strike! Realy bad one! after 40min Fuel Dumping, 70 tonnes, over the "Schwarzwald" it made a Emergency Landing on RWY14 at Zürich with all the Firetruck`s etc....

Later the Flight MA9 to Kualalumpur was Canceld after 6h standing at the Gate E56 on the Dock Middfield.

The acft is now at home with SR Technics awaiting / undergoing inspection & repair.

The pilot, ... well the usual applies here ... :E

Photo at the following link.




Pluss ...






29th Jul 2004, 09:25
When was this?? I can't seem to find a date for it.

Passenger 9
29th Jul 2004, 09:31
It happened on Wednesday July 28 in the year of our lord 2004 when departing from runway 16 at Zurich Airport.
That = yesterday.

29th Jul 2004, 13:05
Any details on what caused this ?

29th Jul 2004, 13:37
Hang on here?

Didn't boeing fit a max body angle limiter in its flight control system? Have to remember the 777 is fly by wire, and therefore this shouldn't have happened unless the system failed...

Im not rated on the acft, but if anyone is, filling us in here would be great - also is there any indication on the flight deck when this happens that the system has failed?

Imagine they had to return...I just wonder what brought it on? Just procedurally the thing to do is lift the aircraft by applying full back yoke and let it lift like that? Or was this a repeat of the SIA case, where this time the runway end came very close indeed and required immediate back pressure....but still, the limiter should have stopped this...

Thank god it didn't end up any worse...Zurich has had its moments.

29th Jul 2004, 14:11
Current B777,both -200 and -300 series do not have protection to avoid a tailstrike.Over-rotate and bang! The -300ER is from what i hear,going to have a system fitted to avoid this.Perhaps someone who is technically up to speed(unlike me) might be able to elaborate.Also,to answer your question,the -300 has an indication via EICAS to alert crew in event of tailstrike.(There is a tailstike leg,located rear underside of fuselage,which when compressed sends message to F/Deck. Electronic checklist requires both outflow valves switched to manual and then to open them both( depressurize cabin).Plan to land at nearest suitable airfield.
Hope this answers most of the questions
Safe flying all !

29th Jul 2004, 15:19

Thanks for the input - I honestly thought the system was already installed on currently 777 models. That theyre considering it, and there is a warning system already built in just screams that the aircraft is probably fairly vulnerable to t/s - but then again, so is the 738.

Quite a tail strike at that too though - next question is how far down teh rwy, and therefore how much rwy did they have left, when they over rotated? Was it just pilot error, or an akwardly loaded airplane, or indeed a miscalculation in the takeoff speeds

Lost For Words
29th Jul 2004, 16:26
During a textbook rotate, the closest the tail of a B777 will get to the ground is 3.4' (About 1 Metre).

So it's pretty close even when things are going normally. To be honest, slow rotates are more common and a clearance of 4.2' is more usual.

As far as incorrect load and balance might affect things: Well it's pretty unlikely since there is a clever nosewheel sensor to let you know if the stab trim is in the right place. In the event of incorrect loading, the 'green band' for setting the trim would show an out of trim condition and there would be an associated caution. Pretty hard to get away with anything these days!

Despite all these safety measures, a good tug at rotate should result in a nice tail scrape.


Passenger 9
29th Jul 2004, 18:49
The tail strike occured on departure from runway 16 at Zürich airport just after passing the intersection with runway 10/28. Most aircraft tend to reach Vr in this area.

Oh and the photo is NOT "Doctored" and the concrete or aluminium dust is real.

29th Jul 2004, 19:25
I don't know what you guys are going on about. The photo caption on the Airbus clearly says this was done intentionally to test minimum take-off distance. Let's not get into conspiracy theories here.

The photo made me suspicious right away, recalling a similar one of an L-1011 doing the same thing about 25 years ago. Also a test by Lockheed.

If you note carefully, there seems to be a skid plate under the Airbus. Cheers,

Spuds McKenzie
29th Jul 2004, 19:29


29th Jul 2004, 19:39
Airbus 777 :} :E

29th Jul 2004, 20:05
See how things get away from you sometimes. One of the previous posts had a url directed toward a photo in some German airline column. I clicked on it and saw an Airbus shooting flames out the arse.

Never saw a picture of the 777. I take all the blame and I am deeply sorry to have been such a fool as not to have checked the post further. There goes my reliability.

29th Jul 2004, 21:33
I'm gonna say this one time, so listen up.

Unless there is an obsticle on the runway, or the aircraft has been severly mis-loaded, there is absolutely NO reason for a tailstrike on takeoff...period.

IF there is, it is because the handling pilot has not been paying attention.
Wrong thrust selected.
Wrong speeds selected.
Poor operating technique.

My God, I even knew a guy (ex-Eastern Air Lines) who over-rotated at TriStar-500 on takeoff (this ain't easy), ex-BOM enroute AMS.
The guy was an idiot, and oddly enough, disappeared after the flight, never to be seen again, by the company.
Just as well, as he would have been terminated.
The Chief Pilot shared my views exactly about over-rotations.

Ahhh, feel better now.:E

AN2 Driver
29th Jul 2004, 21:53

these pics are very real. I saw that plane reland after dumping som 70 tons of fuel, it is now in the hangar of Sair Technics. The kid who took them has been on national TV today, nice guy, met him once I think. And plenty of withnesses too at the airport.


from the picture it appears that the actual rotation took place where it usually does, right about the crossing between 16/10, which was in use that day. So, plenty of runway left after that.

No other information available at this time.

Best regards

AN2 Driver

Yaw String
29th Jul 2004, 22:36
411A,!!!!!! Testicle with an i ! Obstacle with an a !
Carry on.

Shore Guy
30th Jul 2004, 03:54
Boeing "TSP"

During flight testing the airplane’s raked wing tips, a new feature on the 777-300ER, has produced 1.5 percent better fuel consumption than expected. Takeoff field length improved by 1,000 feet (305 meters), because of two other new features – semi-levered landing gear and the tail strike protection (TSP) system, as well as brake performance.

The TSP system also reduced approach speeds by two to three knots. Community noise levels are below requirements and QC2 compliant for departure.

30th Jul 2004, 04:32
411A - how can you POSSIBLY discount the " old underinflated oleo trick.........................." :p := :ok:

30th Jul 2004, 04:49
As this 'seems' to be reserved exclusively for CX Airboos types...you may be right.:p :E

Captain Rat
30th Jul 2004, 05:33
Could some one post a link to the series of photos mentioned above, the link posted doesn't seem to work, it takes me to a pge whicj I believe is saying the page cannot be found

Passenger 9
30th Jul 2004, 07:30
Links to the series of 5 photos






Passenger 9
30th Jul 2004, 10:05
As far as I know there was no wind shear reported at the time of the incident.

It was basically very nice weather as can be seen in the photo with a light breeze, so I think one could discount weather as a factor in this case.

Wind shear or sheer ?

30th Jul 2004, 10:09
Any news on the damage or the cause?

30th Jul 2004, 14:02

I really disagree with you, just because you did not manage yourself to get a tailstrike in your supposedly huge career, that does not mean that such a situation could not arise, without the handling pilot making any huge mistakes.

We had one on the A343 due to a small, undetected and unforeseeable windshear during rotation. The flightcrew really could do nothing about it.

And the airplane was not misloaded, and there was no obstacle on the runway.

BTW The fact that your chief pilot agrees with you does not count as a valid argument to me.


30th Jul 2004, 14:31
That's ok P77, lots of folks don't agree with me.
Having said that, I have personally been around a very long time in heavy jets, and learned early on in some of the more limiting types (B707-300, JT4 powered, for example) that an overly ambitious takeoff rotation with longer body types was...and will always be, bad news.
Look at the DC-8 60 series for example. Now there was an aircraft that could scrape the tail on takeoff rather easily, yet a very few suffed this fate.
Why...because the pilots were aware of the problems involved, an operated accordingly.
And, they just didn't plug inaccurate figures into the FMS either.
It was 'get out the charts' time on these older types, and new(er) guys on more modern types had better learn to actually pay attention to details, otherwise their career may well be shorter than they thought.

30th Jul 2004, 20:38
after 40min Fuel Dumping, 70 tonnes, over the "Schwarzwald" after surviving the acid rain, I don't think the German enviroment luvvies will be happy to hear this. Why not dumping it in the "Vierwaldstaetter See"? After all it happened on a Swiss airport :mad:

31st Jul 2004, 02:21
why not over the Vierwaldstädter See??????
because the Swiss do not like the consequenzes of the :mad: they produce dumped over their head.:yuk:

31st Jul 2004, 05:35
There are some procudures to fuel dunping. ICAO Fuel Dumping procedure is:-

1. Min. Alt 6000'
2.Clear Weather
3. ATC Approval
4. Assigned Area

Then there's individual company's procedures. I don't suppose they can just dump 70Ts of fuel on residents heads. At 6000' I'm sure the fuel would have evaporated before it can reach the earth. Just to enlighten you in case you don't know. :D

Spuds McKenzie
31st Jul 2004, 06:12

You call yourself a pilot? Highly unprofessional remarks you are making...

It is unfortunately pretty unsafe to drop fuel over the Vierwaldstättersee at FL100 (terrain), plus to do this in the vicinity of a TMA with high traffic load wouldn't be overly safe either, would it?

Usually there are two possibilities when dumping fuel, the swiss Jura (for departures to the west), and the Black Forest (for departures to the east).
Both areas are most suitable regarding terrain and traffic (you wouldn't wanna fly into the kerosene with your 737, would you?).

31st Jul 2004, 06:27
Lets for a moment assume that the pilot did not over rotate, then why should the tail scrape occur?

Having flown the 777 for most of its life I never came near scraping the tail (bearing in mind 2-3 feet on a “normal” rotation seems very little but nevertheless is the “normal” figure).

From the pictures we can see that the aircraft at its “tail scrapping attitude” was going too slowly to get airborne, hence the scrape! As the speed built up it then gets airborne.

Why, therefore, was it going too slowly in the first place? ? After all the 777 calculates its own “V speeds” from pilot input of Zero Fuel or Take Off weights. But, If the “FMC” is given a weight less than the actual then it will compute lower speeds hence the probable result will be a scrape.

One 767 operator got very close to a scrape (the tail clearance on the 767 is not as critical as the 777) because the crew had input the “zero fuel weight” into the FMC take off weight box instead of the correct zero fuel weight box. The FMC obviously then calculated the V speeds around the incorrect weights (actual weight less the fuel load). The aircraft was rotated at the FMC computed speeds (for the incorrect weight) to the normal attitude but didn’t leave the runway until the speed had built up to the “correct” figure (just like Zurich). Luckily, as I said earlier, the 767 is not as critical and a tail scrape was avoided.

Lets wait and see with regard to the Zurich incident. It “could” have been pilot error with incorrect figures entered but it could just as easily have been the figures provided to the pilot via the loadsheet were in error!

Only time will tell!

31st Jul 2004, 06:39
I always thought the 767(300) had a pretty narrow tail margin. At normal lift attitude of 7.5 degrees, there will be 61cm/24inchs of clearance, with tail strike occuring at 9.6 degrees,

2.1 degrees to play with isnt much.

Also many 767 operators dont use FMCs to compute V speeds.

31st Jul 2004, 06:45
I like your style Woodpecker. - people are too quick to jump to conclusions in this game. It could have been a lot of things. Everyone likes to learn from other peoples mistakes - however this may or may not have been a forced error. Either way, no one was hurt.

31st Jul 2004, 16:07
I do not critique the action of the crew if you read that correct!
It is the way the swiss handle the traffic into Switzerland and the
consequences accordingly like noise and in emergency cases the
designated areas. It is a political problem since years over the
south part of the black wood forest. In the meantime I fly B777
but I kept my old Nick. So I might be one day the one who has to
dump as well........ who knows ?!?!


1st Aug 2004, 16:28
The certification of these aircraft is all about establishing the speed, known as Vr, at which, if the correct rotation rate is applied, the aircraft will become airborne without this sort of thiing happening. There is a margin below this to allow for some abuse. The correct rotation rate generally stipulated in Boeing training manuals is 2-3 degrees per second.

This incident would be caused by a too rapid rotation causing the aircraft to strike the tail before it became airborne. Simple.

The Rage
1st Aug 2004, 17:54
Nothing was wrong with the plane, it was a training flight for the F/o. His sector back and he over rotated. :ouch:

Shore Guy
1st Aug 2004, 19:21
Anyone have a link for pics of the damage?

1st Aug 2004, 21:53
The Rage,

If true, where the hell was the Commander, out to lunch?
Good grief.
If it was a line training flight, doesn't say all that much for MAS training, does it?

Back to the sim for him...unless it might be 'out the door, don't come Monday'. Opps, forgot, MAS...don't come Saturday.:uhoh:

1st Aug 2004, 23:04
Can someone tell me the URL of the Flight Data Recorder of this Malaysian flight!

With the data at hand we can see if the poor chap over-rotated or rotated too early (FMC/loadshhet error).... Until then this thread is becoming populated by experts who have never flown the machine and have no data to back up their wild guesses as to the cause.

2nd Aug 2004, 01:16
Hi 411A, indeed `I did listen up'.

However I have to disagree with your firmly expressed, but rather limited view of tailstrike causes.

One possibility you have not considered is windshear.

During many years based in Kai Tak, I had a few experiences of ending up back on the ground a short time after liftoff, normally associated with heavy weights plus windshear etc. Presumably any whizzbang overrotation protections would be disarmed at this stage, so if the speed drops off, the aircraft could settle back).

ZRH, being mountainous, is a good place for this sort of fun event, so perhaps gross incompetence may not be the whole story.

`I know my bit, but if I listen to yours and learn, then I'll know more!'

Passenger 9
2nd Aug 2004, 10:19
Fragmann 88 have you ever been to Zürich ? Because the mountians are not really close to the airport at all. There are some hills but nothing really that would cause this. Compared to the old Kai Tak which really did have some high ground around it the topography at Zürich is really quite taim. Unless you fly too low and hit something you shouldn't.

What Woodpecker says makes 100% sence.
If the figures are wrong or if one pulls back tooooo soon, tooooo much or tooooo quick then its scrapey, scrapey time.

I think you will find that wind shear or any abnormal weather effects was not a factor in this incident, because unless any wind shear was caused by a thermal lifting off the runway at the time of rotation, the weather on that day could best be discribed a "Peachy" ie. smooth, soft and nicely rounded. I know because I was there. Not in the aircraft but watching.

Lets be good boys and girls and wait for the report.

2nd Aug 2004, 10:29
The opposite is correct: ZRH is very famous for having unpredictable winds from the NW, i.e. tailwind on RWY 16, the departure rwy for this MAS flight. Meteo service in ZRH have a small observation hat right at THR 16. They have also a rather sophisticated wind prediction/calculation software. But still then, most of the time winds are not coming from the south, as it should be with preferential RWYs 14 and 16. It could be very likely that they got a tailwind gust on take off roll.

2nd Aug 2004, 14:56

Please do explain what a 'tailwind gust' is and how it would be detrimental to aircraft performance, specifically causing a tailstrike on takeoff.

Personally have been operating into ZRH since 1977 during all types of weather, and have never had any problems on takeoff...from any runway in use...16, 34, 28.

Those who are grasping at straws to explain the particular incident clearly are overlooking the primary reason tailstrikes occur on takeoff...over-rotation and incorrect V speeds selected for the actual takeoff weight.

Loadsheet error/incorrect loading...not very likely at all.
Windshear, possible but not very probable.

Crew error, THE primary factor in these all to common incidents.

Wonder just when crews and airlines will examine their particular procedures, especially how V speeds are determined (and carefully cross-checked with the proper printed charts), whether it is indeed proper to select the very utmost flex thrust for the particular takeoff, especially in cases where it is quite critical considering the MTOW, and more sim training so these incidents can be sharply curtailed.

Don't hold your breath.

The only likely scenario is if the hull insurance companies force airlines into this extra training, due to excessive payouts to fix the damage.

2nd Aug 2004, 15:37
Combined total time of captain and fo on this flight in excess of 10 years. MAS has had 777 about 7 years so do the arithmatic.

The only truth is that there's a lot of bullsh*t floating around on the forum.

2nd Aug 2004, 15:37
411A, I didn't say that the tailwind gust is the most likely scenario, I just said that ZRH is a very special airport - yes, Unique!
If you haven't had ever tailwind gusts in ZRH, then I guess you haven't been there a lot. Ask people from there (like me). I remember landing on 14, with a front closing in, flared already, but that IAS just didn't bleed off. Flaring down the rwy I gave up and went around. The Seychelles in front and the Swissair behind me did the same, btw.
If you have sudden wind speed changes (mostly refered as gusts) on take off, you suddenly have not your rotation speed but slightly lower, giving you less lift. It's maybe not the best solution to rotate further (but in theory you could get more lift with more angle), but maybe the MAS guy did just that.
Well, well, we start again with speculation. I didn't want to do that. Just wanted to explain ZRH WX situation. Maybe it can help someone next time.

Cap 56
2nd Aug 2004, 20:32
I tend to agree with A 411 but looking at the picture I would think that they over rotated shortly after the main gear got airborne.

Excluding an aircraft malfunction, I would put my money on use of trim while rotating.

Just guessing, but after the EK T/O demonstration I start to believe that anything is possible once you go out of American and European aviation context.

2nd Aug 2004, 22:14
Here we go again...

...I would put my money on use of trim while rotating...

This is a fly by wire aircraft, the trim doesnt work in the same sense as it does on a cherokee. What you have on the control column trims the speed, not the elevator, through the ACE computers (in promary mode).

Lets just wait and see...

Cap 56
2nd Aug 2004, 22:37

If you push the trim switches on the B 777 in manual flight it will give you pitch up or down at any speed.

Do not chalenge me on this one my friend.

I used to knopw the B 777 inside out.

2nd Aug 2004, 22:48
Cap56, it might be worth a glance at the sequence of pics earlier in the thread; it would seem that the scrape began while all main gear tyres were still squarely on the runway and continued until they were airborne.

unmanned transport
3rd Aug 2004, 05:15
The FDR (Flt. Data Recorder) tape must have been deciphered by now. That will tell the true story.

Shore Guy
3rd Aug 2004, 06:45
To all, please take this not as a criticism of the crew and/or airline involved. Time will be the only teller of the full and true story. However, history of such incidents point to a weight and balance/speed cards/FMC speed programming issue. Which leads me to….

All airlines teach procedures…..few teach techniques, techniques to confirm procedures are adhered to. We have all in our careers seen another pilot do something and say/think “that’s a good idea – I think I’ll do that”.

I submit the following as a technique to perhaps catch the above mentioned problem (I have heard that at some carriers this may be procedure).

Most airlines have estimated weights included in the flight planning paperwork. In fact, for fuel burns to be realistic, particularly on long haul flights, estimated weights better be close to actuals, or a last minute trip by the fuel truck will be involved. My suggestion is that there is a takeoff number that is (almost) strictly a function of weight, and that is the “outer bug” at most carriers, clean maneuver speed (there can be an argument here for V2, but that can vary with different TO flap settings, so V clean maneuver I think is best). Set (or write down) clean maneuver speed during cockpit setup and if the final numbers are significantly different, investigate why. This will normally catch the “big errors” (there have been lots of 100,000 lb. errors in large aircraft tail scrape/tailskid events). And this may catch an error in the landing numbers also…..leave the outer bug set at it’s takeoff value – when setting bugs for landing, the only variable here is fuel burn off. Come up with a quick and dirty formula for the reduction of clean maneuver (I use 3-4 K per hour of flight). If there is a big difference, investigate.

Not trying to be a smart ass here…..there for the grace of God……….But I fly backside of the clock mostly, and try to create as many techniques/tools to keep the blue side up….fatigue induced errors are often so insidious.

Passenger 9
3rd Aug 2004, 09:36
Caught a squint of the 777 the other day in the SR workshop and the damage, external visable, looks like a 4 to 5 meter scrape in the appropriate place. no indication on airframe bending or internal shock load damage, it will take a while longer before we know about that.

you say ...
"If you haven't had ever tailwind gusts in ZRH, ...... I remember landing on 14, with a front closing in, ...... Just wanted to explain ZRH WX situation."

On the day of the scrape there was no , that is, NO, with an N and an O, no front closing in. It was nice weather. :hmm:

Woodpecker is looking in the right area for cause in his first post here. ;)

Oh, and since when has the number of flight hours ever stopped someone from doing something wrong?!? :\ :O

For a bit of fun consider the following.
I could sit up the front of any wide body, with 10,000 hours in my belt, eating peanuts and do my 2 take offs and hopefully also 2 landings a month and call my self experienced. If the average wide body take off long-hall has a ground roll of 50 seconds, of which 5 seconds involved is in the rotate function, then thats 10 seconds a month rotate experience. 10,000 hours divided by 7 hours per sector = 1,428 sectors. 1428 sectors with one rotate of 5 seconds per sector = 7140 seconds rotating divided by two (assuming the work is 50:50 between P1 and P2) = 3570 sec rotating = 59.5 minutes rotating a B777.
How many rotates were in good weather how many in bad etc., etc. after 1 hour or rotating experience it is quite possible for any pilot to over cook it once in a while, or to be in a position where the P1 was not able to recognise or correct a P2 instigated over rotate.

Look at the general aviation accident causes and look and see how many 10,000 hour pilots crash a PA28 through even the simplest of causes.! The total number of hours can tell you everything or nothing about a pilots ability.

Yes we need the FDR information here to help us all and the METAR from the time of the incident.

So its into the melting pot with this one, enjoy, :)

4th Aug 2004, 06:57
No need for any reports and/or FDR data! Gulf Air's Ground Operations Audit Team just published the following to all its Airport Managers:
Malaysian Airlines B777 on departure from ZRH to KUL last week on July 28th had tail strike (see picture). After 40 minutes of fuel dumping it made a emergency landing on RWY14. Further investigation revealed that wrong loading ( Tail Heavy) was reason for tail strike.

4th Aug 2004, 08:59
Thanks Icarus. So there we have it,

Further investigation revealed that wrong loading ( Tail Heavy) was reason for tail strike

Nothing to do with....

a good tug at rotate should result in a nice tail scrape

It could be very likely that they got a tailwind gust on take off roll

One possibility you have not considered is windshear

Nothing was wrong with the plane, it was a training flight for the F/o

I would put my money on use of trim while rotating.

As for 411A, I don't know what jem he came up with as thanks to Pprunes "ignore list" I don't see his posts! (excellent facility)

So in the end it was down to the loadsheet/trimsheet, nothing to do with the pilots!

I rest my case

FE Hoppy
5th Aug 2004, 13:22
So Woody,

Am I to understand that you cannot rotate a miss loaded 777 without a tailstrike?

Yes missloading could lead to a tailstike but who rotates the aircraft and to what attitude.

If after reaching the correct attitude using the prescribed technique the aircraft failed to lift off at the correct speed then the choice is to wait or to rotate further. This could cause a tailstrike somewhere beyond the normal rotate position on the runway or cause a bit of a mess beyond the end of tora.

If it was so grossly missloaded so as to completely rotate to scrape angle without enough elevator authority to prevent it then so be it ,the crew could do nothing, but that would take a massive loading error wouldn't it?

5th Aug 2004, 13:56
Here we go again...

The plane was wrongly loaded! Now , we're going into what if the pilot reacted promptly...

Come on guys...

Of course, if the pilot could manage to take-off without scrapping the tail we wouldn't be here talking about it. But how many times as anyone simulated this problem on the sim?

It looks like there was no wrong doing from the pilots and that was it.

Now, the thing we should be looking for is ways to spot the problem (wrong loading) before their consequences reach this forum.

My two cents...:ok:

5th Aug 2004, 15:05
It looks like there was no wrong doing from the pilots and that was it Disagree totally.

As ever, there is no evidence here, and anywhere public I am aware of, of whether the Flight Crew did a good job, or a bad job, or just what was expected of them. No doubt there is an enquiry going on, and in the fullness of time, we will see exactly what degree various factors contributed.

If you knew the first thing about aviation safety, and accidents (you, and many others above patently do not), you will realise that most accidents and incidents are caused by a combination of factors. Eliminating one of those factors will usually have prevented the accident / incident occurring, but the purpose of the inquiry will be to try and address as many of the factors as possible.

A 3rd party message, in a Ground Department publication has given blame to "loading". They do not have the authority to appotion blame, but are no doubt pointing out that an initial check has revealed a loading error.

It is a correct point that Flight Crew have the skills and tools to counteract some loading errors. Whether this crew had the skills / training, or made errors, or whether the loading error was beyond their capabilities we will see.

As an example, after one of a series of DC-8 cargo loading errors / cargo shift accidents the NTSB recommended training for Flight Crews handling techniques for CG / trim errors.


5th Aug 2004, 15:23

If you go back and read your on post you'll see my quote and it says "looks like", it doesn't say "There was no pilot error".

I know that until the enquiry finishes, everything else is speculation and that was just what I was trying to prevent.

And yes, I do have knowledge of Aviation Safety.:} And the chain of events...And if cut that chain, you probably prevent the acident/incident to happen... And that safety enquiries are there to find ways to change policies, create new procedures, etc to prevent that acident/incident to happen again...

Missing anything else?:E

5th Aug 2004, 16:09

I do not see how you can even say "looks like"? It does not "look like" anything to me (officially).

If we want to get into speculation, I cannot recall a tailscrape purely due to a loading error. As another poster has suggested, if the thing has not sat on it's backside at the gate, then there is a good chance it shoud be correctable, albeit with some prompt and large scale inputs from the Flt Crew. However, who knows with the 777, and this particular solution? I don't...

Since you know all the bits about Flt Safety (I managed to get you there!), I am surprised you make a statement like:It looks like there was no wrong doing from the pilots and that was it - you have drawn a pretty strong conclusion from very flimsy evidence. It is as bad, IMHO, to "clear" the crew (as you suggest) as "blame" them.... No comment is best, until we have more info, and preferably an inquiry result.


5th Aug 2004, 16:18
with all the attention on this MAS tailstrike in ZRH, And any implications for the Pilots invoved, regardless of what happened
in this case, incidents like these and some very minor scrapes at my airline have led to an irrational trepidation to rotate the aircraft at the correct time and rate.

On our fleet, we have four subtypes of 757/767 all with considerably different dimensions weights (cockpit layout) on the -400
all with significantly differing clearance attitudes from13 degrees on the 762 down to 12.5 on the 752 down to 9 on the 767-400
and 8 on the 757-300.

We regularly change between these aircraft on even, a daily basis
our AFM states that a proper rotation should result in an airspeed of v2+15 with a required pitch of between 7.5 to 10 degrees to achieve this.

Each one of these aicraft handle a little differently, and a more junior pilot may not see a 767 for some time (the faa has decreed that currency for one is good for all!) the 767-400 has basically the 777 cockpit without the mouse and electronic checklist
quite different.

Delta flys their 767-400's as a separate fleet.

As a result of all this and a large amount of well meaning 'lore'
passed down we have a substantial contingent of pilots who start their rotation late and then rotate extremely slowly so much so that when the thundering machine is finally allowed of the ground, you have exceeded tyre speed and rocket into the air at speeds of up to v2+50 getting close to and then sometimes exceeding flap speeds.

This is all because of a fear of hitting the tail, we have a pitch monitoring program through the DFDAU that can give us (on any of these four types) our exact pitch as we lifted off. A few seconds after take off this can be retrieved and noted and after engine shutdown you can see the landing attitude next to a list of critical attitudes for all types,

You can receive a printed warning if you get closer than 2 degrees to the limit, unfortunately this warning is only tailored to the most restrictive aircraft (the757-300) bit silly when you get a warning that you exceeded 6 degrees taking off in a 767-200 when you are good to 13.

So we have overcompensated, not to minimize the danger of the tailstrike itself, but now, not only are we being hard on the aircraft we are not meeting our performance criteria, with these 'homemade' profiles

Anyone else out there with similar experiences?

5th Aug 2004, 22:52

That's the second time you quote me, but still you didn't understand. What part of "looks like" is of difficult compreension from your part.:E

If we want to get into speculation, I cannot recall a tailscrape purely due to a loading error. As another poster has suggested, if the thing has not sat on it's backside at the gate, then there is a good chance it shoud be correctable, albeit with some prompt and large scale inputs from the Flt Crew.

If you want to speculate...Supose that the wrong loading wasn't enough for the 777 to sat on it's backside, but just barely. So with just with the right momentum (as in a rotation) the 777 could easily do it , don't you agree? My knowledge of the 777 is very limited, but the ones here flying it could enlighten us...

Oops, I didn't wanted to go into speculations...:}

6th Aug 2004, 08:35
Not quite right on the differences between the -200 and -300 vis a vis tail strike indications (too much time at the beach eh?) though the FCOMS are not really clear on the subject. Both aircraft have a tail strike sensor (that little yellow thingy that looks kind of like another antenna). Scrape that and you will get a TAIL STRIKE EICAS message on either aircraft requiring a depressurization and landing. The -300 also has a tail skid that is designed to protect the fuselage (though technically you have also struck the tail if the skid makes ground contact) and prevent actual damage to the aircraft. Provided you did not completely compress the skid and shear off the sensor, you will not get an EICAS message though you will get a friendly little message from maintenance control who will know about the whole sordid affair through their real time flight telemetry. In this case (no EICAS message on the -300), you should be able to complete the flight as the skid has prevented the fuselage from actually making contact with the runway. You can expect an invitation for tea and biscuits "at your earliest conveinience".
Boeing does make reference to receiving a ground report of a tailstrike with no EICAS message in the -200. There is a remote chance that you can impact the tail without the sensor blade making contact. This requires a pitch attitude in excess of 12.3 degrees with all main gear wheels off of the runway. In this case you are directed to follow the tailstrike checklist (depressurize and land). Suggest taking a look at bulliten EKIB-12.

AN2 Driver
6th Aug 2004, 09:04
I am a bit surprised at the dispatch from Gulf Air regarding wrong loading.

Nobody here at ZRH knows anything about a wrong loading, there is no confirmation of that theory whatsoever.

I wonder if MAS are confirming this or not, otherwise I would treat this dispatch with caution unless it is proven by some hard data. I have not been able to confirm this with any of my contacts in ZRH so far.

9th Aug 2004, 16:46
To all the flyers out there, disregard whether how much exprience you have, ask youself again, have you ever make any mistake or error in flying? For this set of crew, it's just a bad hair day for them, but they brought the aircraft back on ground safely, good job right? :cool:

411A, I think what we should discuss here is the possible contributing factors for a tail strike, not showing off the experience level, and gossip other's mistake, you were not there during the inccident, how the ***k you know they mishandled the aircraft? :hmm:

Joyce Tick
9th Aug 2004, 20:28

I asked myself as you suggested and the answer is NO - never made a mistake which resulted in anything of consequence. And I have a hundred colleagues about whom I can say the same.

"Good job right" - Rollocks, matey, they bent the airframe! That takes mishandling - as investigation will doubtless reveal. Some other clown did it to an Airbus recently...

10th Aug 2004, 01:01

Nope, never even came close to dragging the tail in thirty+ years in heavy jets, and I personally know countless others in the same boat.

Nearly every tailstrike during takeoff or landing is the result of mis-handling the aircraft, or selecting the wrong Vspeeds for departure.

As all of the above referenced incidents are a result of poorly thought out pilot actions, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the difficulties they might now find themselves in.

In short, either fly the aeroplane correctly, or find another job.

It all boils down to...either you are a true professional, or you are not.
No middle ground in my book.

Kaptin M
10th Aug 2004, 03:50
411A (who else :rolleyes: )Nope, never even came close to dragging the tail...And how the :mad::mad::mad::mad: do you know THAT, 411A.
Let me guess......you are God's Gift to Aviation???? :rolleyes:

square leg
10th Aug 2004, 08:02
In our company we (often) read about cargo pallets that shifted during T/O (rotation) in our monthly safety bulletin (hooks improperly latched).

This can also happen at TOD when a steep descent is initiated.

Maybe, just maybe a cargo shift took place during rotation. This (I think) would be rather difficult to handle from a tail-prevent-strike point of view.

I doubt that any pilot has never made a mistake, however small it may be.:zzz:

10th Aug 2004, 09:28
Didn't want to introduce this into the thread for fear of getting flamed, but as square leg has brought up the subject...

I have personally experienced problems on 777 a/c with shifting cargo pallets. CO, EK, MAS.

None resulted in C of G warnings to the flight crew. One did cause the cabin crew to report loud bangs on rotation, TOC and landing run (braking). The pallet was found to be free to move approx 15 feet from it's forward stop near the cargo door to the rear stops! Fortunately it was lightly loaded.

My point is that if a heavy cargo pallet was loaded in the correct position but not locked in place, then the resulting shift rearwards, if there was room, could cause a large rearwards shift in Cof G.

Also, if memory serves, MAS routinely need to alter the position of the cargo locks during turnrounds to accomodate different class of palletts. Other airlines may do the same but MAS are the only ones I have had to routinely assist in this task.

Just thoughts thats all.


10th Aug 2004, 23:52
Just pretty relevant thoughts, Turin. And Trimotor. Of the type you learn from.

11th Aug 2004, 08:11
Okay you got me - I can't stand it any longer.
blah blah bah etc etc
You were lucky. Endex.

Joyce Tick
11th Aug 2004, 13:28

There are quite a few of us given by the Almighty to aviation - 411A, Kaptin M, me, Normal Nigel - to name but a few. We don't make mistakes and we spend a lifetime training others not to make them either.

Maybe we've got it wrong, but we thought that was what aviation was about?

I am, after all,

The perfect Joyce

11th Aug 2004, 16:14
Thank you for putting me right.if the fcoms aren't clear about this,as you state,how the hell are we supposed to know then?That's the problem with most of the paperwork and manuals at EK,There is far too much confusion,discrepancies,and contradictions in the manuals......take the latest effort to implement the new FTL's.Several of the explanatory notes designed to make understanding the new rules easier,are incorrect.That just complicates the issue further!Still,you obviously appear clued up so i'll come to you for guidance in future.:8

12th Aug 2004, 03:39
Non-777 driver here but didn't Lost For Words mention a:
clever nosewheel sensor to let you know if the stab trim is in the right place
This supports the 'slippery pallet' theory as troubleshooting a stabilser out-of-trim condition would have revealed the load error prior to takeoff.
Also it seems like an aft displacement, the direction an unsecure load would shift at the start of the takeoff roll.

12th Aug 2004, 07:19
Nose wheel trim sensor

Some B777 pilots are talking about this device wich should allert the crew of a wrongly trimmed B777, ence a wrong loadshet or loading. Can you tell why it did not probably work in that case?

Additionally: having some experience flying commercial A/C, happened to me and very probably to many of you to take off with a tail heavy A/C and not knowing it. This does not mean that I have to hit the tail: even in fly by wire A/C we can feel the rotation speed and check our attitude; especially if we do not have turbolences (like seems to be the case on tha day in ZRH).


17th Aug 2004, 12:35
From memory...the c of g sensor reads the displacement of the nose gear oleo and through a clever magic box and calculation indicates to the flight crew the green band for the correct stab trim required.

If the a/c is loaded with the cargo pallets in the correct place, then there will be no anomalies.

However, if the pallets shift during the t/o roll or at rotation then the (I think) pilots will not get a warning.

Er...I think!:8

17th Aug 2004, 20:35
Shifting pallets/containers is likely a red herring.

Normally most SE asian airlines leave Europe with the containers full...all of 'em.
If not, then the empty containers are loaded on as well, otherwise all would be at one end of the route network, which gets the cargo guys in an uproar.

Look for the FD CREW, specifically the handling pilot to have stuffed it up....big time.

18th Aug 2004, 00:39
I’ve had more time stowing ships than aircraft but I know that similar principles apply, i.e. when unsecured cargo starts shifting it a) tends to go very quickly, b) it will always be in the wrong direction and c) the timing will be the most inconvenient.

So cg/nosewheel trim sensors would have been of little use if the pallets/containers were stowed correctly for cg but, unsecured, decided to go aft at rotation. There would be zilch warning.

411’s comment re the unlikelihood of there being empty spaces in the hold is apropos but it’s informed speculation; it doesn’t necessarily mean that there were no empty slots aft. There could be all sorts of reasons - a need for containers for the next flight and thus no empty repositionings for that particular flight. It could be a red herring but then again, maybe not. Icarus's posting on page 4 of this thread refers to an announcement from the airline that the tailscrape was attributed to improper stowage.

18th Aug 2004, 06:14
I tend to avoid making any judgement on these matters, as I don't have the necessary information at hand. Nor do any of you.

What amuses me is the polarisation between those of open mind and the KKK.

411a's mind is as open as Fort Knox. Go on re-read your comments:Shifting pallets/containers is likely a red herring. Look for the FD CREW, specifically the handling pilot to have stuffed it up....big time. You want them to be guilty don't you?

18th Aug 2004, 07:12
Can someone reassure me that palletised or LD3 containerised cargo just cannot "shift" (i.e. slide to the rear upon take-off acceleration)??

Surely any claimed improper loading would imply that the pallet of lead ingots were mistakenly placed aft and were booked onto the load sheets as crates of lettuce, etc etc. What else could improper loading be construed as? Loading full containers in lieu of empty "returns" maybe?

18th Aug 2004, 10:19

Sorry to be the bearer of unpallatable news (pun intended;) ) but pallets shift..often! Usually they are, as 411 says, empty and are of minor inconvenience. They only cause embarassment to the loaders and a banging noise in the cabin.

If a heavy pallet shifts (and they have) expect touble.

I am not saying that this incident was caused by shifting cargo, but it is a possibility.
I have no axe to gring here just offering (I hope) constructive comment.:ok:

18th Aug 2004, 23:41

Not a question of where the cargo's stowed for cg purposes but of what happens when it's not secured.

With containers, be they aircraft of maritime, you know what the weights and destinations are prior to loading; the appropriate computer programme tells you where to put the containers for the most efficient trim/stability/discharge combination. In container ships carrying thousands of boxes of different sizes, considerations include stack weight, destinations, cargo compatibility, susceptibility to temperature/humidity change etc.; on aircraft it's quite a bit simpler because transport is usually point-to-point.

The weakest link is the lashing, securing the cargo so it doesn't shift. After the computer's done its work telling you where the cargo should go and, assuming that's where it was actually stowed, the old Mark 1 eyeball has to be employed. On a ship it's the chief officer's responsibility; part of his job is to catch all the little mistakes made by the shore gang (and which his duty mates didn't catch) and have them corrected - loose turnbuckles, twistlocks in the release position, etc, never trusting anyone. On an aircraft I believe it's the same but, again, somewhat more straitforward. Number One consideration being "is it adequately tied down?".

What it boils down to is simple commonsense. When you fly as a passenger, and you stow your computer bag in the overhead bin, do you consider how the bag's going to slide aft on takeoff and forward on landing, and try to cushion it where it's not going to be shot like a loose cannon from one end of the locker to the other?

19th Aug 2004, 00:07
broadreach, on modern aircraft, cargo is not restrained by lashing. Pallets and containers are held in place by mechanical latches on the cargo floor. The only hold where loose cargo is stowed is the bulk cargo hold where uncontainerized suitcases, fruit and vegetables etc. are loaded but in such a way that they do not shift on rotation or deceleration and are usually contained by cargo nets or curtains. I have experienced a few tailstrikes on various aircraft during my flying days although none of them severe enough to cause any damage to the airframe.

19th Aug 2004, 00:33
Thanks for clarifying, HotDog. Am I right in thinking the latches have to be manually turned/swivelled/activated? Same as all the securing apparatus on a ship, and as subject to oversight and as much in need of the old eyeball checking before one sets off?

I don't want to skew this thread away from its central theme; the comments re stowage were just to offer an alternative scenario to "FD crew screwed up bigtime on rotation".


19th Aug 2004, 06:26
Yes, they are manually locked and it is the responsibility of the cargo loaders that this is accomplished.