View Full Version : Singapore B744 in bad tailstrike @ Aukland NZ

12th Mar 2003, 04:20
Forced landing for burning plane

A Boeing 747 with nearly 400 people on board has been forced to make an emergency landing in Auckland after it caught fire.

The tail of the Singapore Airlines plane scraped the tarmac on take-off from Auckland International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

The airline says the aircraft was forced to circle the airport and dump fuel while ground crews assessed the damage.

It then made an emergency landing.

About a dozen ambulances and fire trucks were on standby, but the airline says the plane landed safely and no one was hurt.

About 30 flights were distrupted as airport staff swept the runways clear of debris.

All those aboard were evacuated once it came to a stop, and no injuries have been reported.

Published on Mar 12, 2003

12th Mar 2003, 06:27
Will be interesting if anyone can get any pics of the tail of this prior being shut up in a hanger!

Sounds like an impressive tailstrike? Would be interested in the "caught fire" / "burning" facts. Presume sparks from contact with the runway - even APU fuel fire if he really went for it..?

Can't imagine fire was serious / long lasting if he then dumped fuel...


12th Mar 2003, 06:42
Typical jurno crap reporting. It was a tail strike .... nothing more .... nothing less

The Singapore Airlines 747-400 with a damaged tail. Picture / Kenny Rodger


Airline denies fire caused emergency landing

Despite eye-witness accounts of flames shooting from the back of a Singapore Airlines jet which made an emergency landing at Auckland International Airport today, the airline denies fire was involved.

The Boeing 747-400, carrying 368 passengers and 20 crew departed at 3.28pm this afternoon bound for Singapore, but apparently struck its tail on the runway on take-off.

In a statement released this afternoon, Singapore Airlines said it appeared the tail strike triggered a fire alarm in the cockpit.

However, there was "no information to suggest that the fire warning light was triggered by an actual fire", the statement said.

However, eye-witnesses interviewed by TV3 news this evening said they saw flames of up to 3m coming from the tail of the aircraft as it circled above the runway.

Singapore Airlines said the aircraft was in the air for about 20 minutes before it could land again.

The plane was then moved to a remote bay where passengers disembarked.

"No passengers or crew were injured in the incident or the landing."

The plane was under the command of an experienced crew, including a captain with 20 years' experience, the airline said.

The airline would "co-operate fully" with authorities investigating the incident.

Another aircraft was to be flown from Sydney to Auckland later tonight to operate the flight.

In a statement issued by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, John Mockett, chief investigator of accidents, said an investigation would determine the causes and circumstances of the accident "for the purpose of preventing similar occurrences in future".

The investigation would include inspection of the aircraft and its cargo, interviews with flight and ground crews, and may take some months.

The investigator in charge, Ken Mathews, would travel to Auckland tomorrow morning.

About 20 flights out of Auckland were delayed because of the incident, which closed the runway for just over an hour.

Auckland International Airport CEO John Goulter said the runway was closed from about 4.50pm to 5.50pm to allow a full inspection to be carried out.

"We had to ensure that there was nothing on the runway, like pieces of debris, which could have posed a danger for other aircraft."

All flights had been rescheduled successfully, he said.

"It's not a big drama, it's just part of the business."


12th Mar 2003, 07:05
In an interview, a Singapore Airlines spokesman advised that the over-rotation on take off resulted in a tail strike, and this triggered an "APU fire warning".

As a result of this the crew dumped fuel, and returned to Auckland and landed.

Because the aircraft was so heavy, it had a "heavy landing" which the passengers would have been aware of.

The aircraft was to be checked for the orginal tail strike, and the subsequent heavy landing.

Some days it's best not to go to work?:(

12th Mar 2003, 07:39
When an aircraft is havy it makes an 'overweight landing'.
When it is smacked in (on the aircraft I fly the limit is 2g) it is a 'heavy' landing.

The aircraft being above max landing weight does not automatically result in a heavy landing.

12th Mar 2003, 07:56
I'm a journo of sorts, not print, but very interested in aviation matters, and after years of reading the 'crap journo' comments I think this one deserves a quick reply. The piece in the link was put together very fast by someone with little time, and it's quite a good piece. Lots of direct quotes, information, and a clear indication of the source of the fire rumour, ie a dodgy quote on a news report. Ends on a clear 'no big deal' from a professional directly quoted.
The original piece is a 'quicky' taken straight from the wire services I would imagine. Everyone wants news fast so that's what you get.

Still news. Jeez, this is called a Rumour website. Are you saying all stories about aviation should be kep out of the media until they pass a professional 'significance' level.

At the moment Concorde is going through a bad spell with minor'ish problems that get in the news, always met with howls of 'what's the story?' from ppruners. Well, get real. It's a story. Think before you post the crap jouno stuff.

12th Mar 2003, 08:01
try this for a close up picture........ouch!


12th Mar 2003, 08:17
Question for "heavy" pilots. How "easy" is it to "over rotate"?

In this world of advanced electronics, is there no warning that a pilot can get, to alert him that such an incident is about to occur, unless action is taken?

How far off the runway is the underside of the tail on a 747 during a "normal" take-off?

12th Mar 2003, 08:20
Bob Builder,

You ask us pilots to get real? I guess most of us are clinging to a sort of "unbiased, well-informed and objective view" that journalists are supposed to have. Nowadays, the more sensation you can get, the better. Of course it sounds better to have a headline that says "Forced landing for Burning plane" than "Aircraft has tailstrike and returns to airport safely". Who of the general public would read the story with the latter headline? Plus, a story like that would instantly be moved 10 pages back in the newspaper.

Since nowadays, there are so many competing news sources (papers, television, internet), each one is trying to nudge ahead of the competition by sensationalizing news. No shock there, my country's most popular newspaper's news reporting level is almost at the level of the tabloids: way overdone and many times not even correct.

In our case, journalists do their (albeit small) part in making our industry fare a bit worse. Yes, you're reading it correctly, journalists help screw up the airline industry. These stupid stories make people afraid of flying and join anti-aviation activist groups at worst and make people think the aviation industry is worrisome at best. NEVER do I read about the great job the pilots, ATC, ground resources do when they bring a bad situation to a good ending. NEVER do I read a story where the reader is given the impression that even though something goes wrong, rest assured that you'll make it back in one piece. Because that sort of reporting is dull and boring.

So let us have our fit when over-sensationalized journo crap like this comes out.


Although I don't fly wide bodies, I fly 757-200's which are long tubes as well and are at risk of tail strikes during takeoff and landing. Although some aircraft have a sensor that will give you a message in the cockpit or a spring that will even absorb some of the energy should the tail (almost or entirely) hit the asphalt, there are no systems that warn you in advance if your rotation rate is too high (as far as I know).

Tail clearance during a fully standard takeoff for a 757-200 is just 84cm (33in), for a 757-300 it's 66cm (26in) and for a 767-300 it's 61cm (21in). So imagine that giant piece of metal blasting down the runway at almost 300 km/h with just that little clearance between the tail and the ground.

12th Mar 2003, 08:30
For any doubters, this aircraft made two attempts to land after the tailstrike.
A link is provided for on-line viewing of the incident per TV3


It was much more than a simple tail strike.

12th Mar 2003, 08:33
There is no warning system on the -400 of imminent tail strike.

At lift off, with a 10 deg pitch, boeing says there is 44 inches of tail clearence.
Rwy contact occurs at 12.5 deg (bogies on grnd I suppose)

12th Mar 2003, 08:39
A340-600 has a pitch limit indicator as an aid to prevent tail strike.

It is a large orange "V" on the PFD. If you rotate past the apex of the V you will strike the tail. It disappears 3s after take-off.

It cannot prevent you over rotating but it does give you a visual warning as you near the limit.

In my experience most tail strikes have been caused by rotating at to low a speed rather than rotating too rapidly. Similarly on landing holding the acft off to achieve a smoother touchdown has resulted in more tail strikes than simply over flaring. (only an opinion)

12th Mar 2003, 08:51

Never say never.

Er...off the top of my head.. er.. The Azores glide landing. Seem to remember most lying journo scum went with the "Pilot save lives with miracle glide landing" version of events.

What about the pilot out of cockpit window story? What about Sioux crash - pilot flys plane using engine power... I could go on.

12th Mar 2003, 09:01
Thanks IZ, I thought the "tolerance" wasn't great!

I agree that there is much sensationalism with regard to news reporting of "incidents".

However, on the subject of "good news" reporting, I think you may be reading the "wrong" papers. I often see stories hailing the skills of a pilot. Unfortunately these are often well after the event occurred, usually because of the need to wait until an investigation has deemed the "official" circumstances/cause of an incident. A recent example was the award given to BA Captain Hagan following the Kenya "nutter" incident.

Many stories will never be reported, because the "hero" died during the incident, although Sqn Ldr Andrews was posthumously hailed a hero for taking avoiding action to save people on the ground, after he died when his Hawk crashed in 1999.

Kerosene Kraut
12th Mar 2003, 09:02
Agree speed seems to be a main factor (in general). However some a/c especially stretched versions are rather limited in ground clearance on rotation speed with heavier loads. Latest 777-300ER even uses some automated elevator input when coming too close to the ground to prevent tailstrikes.

Tcas climb
12th Mar 2003, 09:20
Question from one who has never flown anything that can dump fuel. I'm not implying anything on this specific flight, as no facts other than the tail is damaged is currently known.

What are the procedures regarding fueldumping, if you at the same time have a fire indication in the tailsection/APU?

Final 3 Greens
12th Mar 2003, 09:21

I am also a journo of sorts, writing features for a magazine from time to time.

A Boeing 747 with nearly 400 people on board has been forced to make an emergency landing in Auckland after it caught fire

The above is factually incorrect. I don't care how quickly the piece was written, it is IMHO irresponsible to report in such a way.

If the piece had said

A Boeing 747 with nearly 400 people on board has been forced to make an emergency landing in Auckland after it was suspected to have caught fire

Then that would have been acceptable.

The professional pilots on this board get annoyed with what they refer to as 'crap journalism' and in this instance I totally understand their feelings.

An airborne fire is one of the most serious emergencies a pilot has to deal with, whereas a fire warning light must be dealt with but is often no more than an erroneous indication.

Equally, 'hero pilot saves plane' is often a headline with which pilots will be uncomfortable, especially when it is written before the board of enquiry that establishes the facts.

12th Mar 2003, 09:43
To clarify my “crap” comment, I was referring to the content of the initial post.

The attached article from the NZ Herald was a reasonable attempt by a jurno to at least state the facts without sensationalizing or colouring the facts.

12th Mar 2003, 10:30
On the Lonely Planet website there's a tale of a pax that was bumped from the flight. She was given NZ$600 compensation and a business class seat on tomorrow's flight -- which was the one she wanted anyway, but couldn't get on because it was full.

Guess it was her lucky day!

12th Mar 2003, 11:14
Tcas climb, that's an interesting remark you made there. Personally, with any APU fire indication that does not go out, I'd land immediately, we don't know the facts for this instance, perhaps the indication went out. Even so, I don't know if it's wise to start spraying fuel if you cannot visually check your tail from inside the aircraft.

Tail strike can happen because of bad loading or bad trim setting (apart from the reasons mentioned above). If the CG was more aft than normal or calculated, a high rotation rate could occur, rotation could even start before the calculated rotation speed.

Bob Builder, I'm sorry, I exaggerated a bit, there are good stories out there, but they're more the exception than the norm. The ones that do compliment the outcome usually go "The pilot was able to land the aircraft safely." Most people think there's only one pilot on the plane (the captain) and the first officer only sits there to keep him company (okay there are captains out there who think this too but they should be banned from the planet). Back when passengers were allowed to visit the flight deck during flight, you wouldn't believe what some of them would say to me, as F/O. First suck up to the captain, then turn to me and say, "Now then young man, what is it that YOU do here?" :) I personally don't care or take it personally, but some pax start writing their testaments when they see the captain going to the toilet because they think nobody is flying the plane (you should see them when he's in the lav and it starts getting turbulent, and don't start saying it's the f/o wiggling the yoke! :) )

I don't think it's the press' job to educate the people, but it is their job not to misinform them!

12th Mar 2003, 11:45
Not the first tailstrike of an aircraft, nor will it be the last.

Until we know the facts, like, just what did the load sheet show compared to the actual loading? and a lot more besides it would be wrong to start passing judgement.

In the meantime perhaps someone with a knack for searching archives could put together a list of tailstrikes to transport jets that have happened over the last two years?

12th Mar 2003, 12:18
I don't think it's the press' job to educate the people, but it is their job not to misinform them!

Interesting comment. Makes me wonder about your use of the word educate

I tend to use the word much more liberally, i.e. to learn, by considering information (from all sources) and to weigh such information based on previous learning experiences.

When new information stops coming in, I am guaranteed to become ignorant. In my evryday life without news, I don't get much new information.

Notso Fantastic
12th Mar 2003, 12:49
The information was published, and I have seen it for myself, that on a heavyweight take-off, the Classic 747 rear fuselage could get to within 18 inches of the tarmac. It would be a very easy thing to strike the tail of a Classic or -400- that is why the rotation should be controlled at about 2 1/2 degrees/second, and allowed to keep rising slowly through the 10 degree attitude where it naturally wants to stop (because the tailplane is getting close to the ground and picking up compressed air between the tailplane and the ground. Liftoff occurs shortly after this and the rotation continues at a slower rate up to an attitude of anything from 13-17 degrees which after lift off is quite safe.
I watched an Eastern Airlines Airbus have a landing tailstrike at MIA right next to me waiting to take-off. It was surprisingly spectacular. I wouldn't call it 'flames'- more like spectacular large sparks. They were unaware and sound rather hacked off when we advised them! Easy to do with some types- I imagine the A340-600 needs to take special care!

Kerosene Kraut
12th Mar 2003, 13:01
Rumour (unconfirmed!) says they might have hit runway lights as well. Any info on their t/o length yet?

12th Mar 2003, 13:18
Those with long memories can recall several SQ tailstrikes on takeoff with long bodied aircraft.
Runway lights also involved?
Wonder if they were at the end of the runway...as in Melbourne (runway 27) many years ago.

12th Mar 2003, 13:50
At least this pilot came back....

12th Mar 2003, 13:51
Could it be a wrong lower ZFW being entered in the FMS?

We'll wait for the investigation findings and learn I guess.

A/P Disc
12th Mar 2003, 14:07
Could be a case of misloading.Has happend before.
If they wanted to rotate and there was a very aft CG
this could be the result.

12th Mar 2003, 14:15

From the NTSB records:

Nov '98 - Portland - MD-11 - Delta
Dec '98 - Shangai - MD-11 - Chhina Eastern
Jun '99 - Phoenix - 757 - Delta
Jul ' 99 - JFK - A300-600 - American
May ' 00 - Maui - L1011 - American Trans Air
Jun '01 - Atlanta - 757 - Delta
Jul '01 - Monastir - 737-400 - Euralair
Oct ' 01 - Roanoke - EMB145 - Mesa
Dec '01 - Anchorage - 747 - Evergreen
Jun '02 - Subic Bay - MD-11 - Fedex
Jun '02 - El Paso - A300-600 - Fedex
Jun '02 - Japan - 767 - ??
Sep '02 - Baltimore - 757 - Northwest
Feb '03 - Vancouver - 737 - Alaskan

Luke SkyToddler
12th Mar 2003, 17:36
I was watching the whole thing unfold from the holding point.

I thought initially they'd lost an engine on rotate because of the whacking great cloud of smoke that came out of them.

The interesting thing is they did not dump fuel at all, they were coming back around downwind and called for vectors out to sea so they could dump, and then straight away called back to say negative, they would be landing immediately due to the fire warning, turned onto base and came straight in. I dont know where all these reporters got the idea that they dumped fuel from?

The reason they took two approaches to land, was that they went massively through their turn onto finals at the first attempt and ended up a good half mile right of the centerline.

The second approach was on centerline but looked to be pretty high, and fast, I'd like to know what the threshold speed is supposed to be when you're that heavy?

Now if someone from Auckland Airport company could just explain to us ignorant pilots why we couldn't have used 23R while 23L was shut? I thought that was exactly why that parallel runway / taxiway was brought in, so we could all use it when the main one was shut for maintenanance?

12th Mar 2003, 18:53
The aircraft took out about three runway edge lights, presumably with its main gear - would have been more but for the flush mountings at the taxiway entrance. Seems as though there were a number of things going on here....

12th Mar 2003, 21:50
The LIE of the century

reported here

" the pasengers or crew never felt a thing"

:yuk: :yuk: :yuk:

Buster Hyman
12th Mar 2003, 22:47
Strewth! I'm glad it wasn't my loadsheet!:eek:

13th Mar 2003, 00:39
Thanks Newswatcher.

If their weight was up around three hundred tonnes then the bug speed would have been about 157kts, possibly a flap 25 landing also so bug speed of 164kts.
320 tonnes gives a flap 25 figure of 170kts. (30flap 163kts).

It is not at all uncommon for the crew/pax to know nothing of a tail strike until it is reported to them via other aircraft or ATC.

13th Mar 2003, 02:05
Thanks Luke for a Pilot's eyewitness account of what actually happened. Sounds better. Sounds like it was dealt with by the crew as it should have been. Initially decide to dump fuel due to overweight landing then Negative when they get fire warning because it calls for immediate landing. Then deciding to go-around because not stable on approach. They would fly by the book and training. The real worry if I were them is the aftermath.

13th Mar 2003, 04:18
Wasnt there on the day, but from what was said today, Luke's account is spot on. I did have a look at the aircraft today, to understate it, it looks bloody nasty. Apart from what you see in the pics, there are scrap marks down to about a few meters from the main gear. I couldnt exactly get the tape out to check though. The apu itself looks un-touched.

13th Mar 2003, 05:14
Luke, were you in the Saab or the ATR? I was watching as well and it looked pretty scary.

The runway lights appear to have been removed by the tail of the aircraft.

There was a sustantial gouge out of the runway which was one of the delays to it opening again.

The likely cause as passed on to me by a -400 captain (and I stress this is an opinion) was that they have either taken off without the flaps set correctly or rotated at V1.
No fuel dump so landing was at least 100T over max landing weight.
Regardless of cause credit is due to the crew for getting everyone safely back on the ground.

Tcas climb
13th Mar 2003, 05:56
Could it be that all airport fire equipment was tending the 747 and there was not enough fire rescue capacity, if a second emergency apeared?

13th Mar 2003, 07:06
No one’s mentioned the weather conditions at the time. Is anyone willing to even give the guy a break and posit that windshear might have been involved? (Even if it wasn't, no one's mentioned the possibility.)

I’m yet again amazed at the way we ‘eat our young’ and are so damned quick to lay blame on a colleague without waiting for the evidence.

13th Mar 2003, 09:22
I think 100 T over MLW is probably a bit high.
Lets assume a good ZFW of 235 T and about 11 hrs fuel, say 110 T gives a TOW of 345 T. A B744 is about 285 T MLW at least, so we aren't that bad - 60 T say as worst case. From what I hear of the SQ fuel policy, likely much less!!!

13th Mar 2003, 10:17
From what I know of the SQ fuel policy your numbers sound about right Mustafaganda .

13th Mar 2003, 15:42
Hey GAMAN, were you in that mighty trilander?? Will catch up with you and the crew in April. Say gday to the CP, MW.

Luke SkyToddler
13th Mar 2003, 17:41
GAMAN - I was on taxiway C1 in a Seneca, (just beside the Saab), taxiing out from the air ambulance base.

Fair enough if they have their reasons for not using 23R, I'd still like to know the logic behind it from the airport company point of view though, it just annoyed me because I had a medical priority in the back, and we had to disconnect all the tubes and hoses and gadgets and go stick the poor chap back on a makeshift stretcher in the hangar. I tried to get a tailwind takeoff from the 23L midpoint (going the other way) but they weren't interested in that either.

You can all discount windshear as a probable cause as well, weather at the time was I believe 200/12, a light southerly anyway, no clouds below about 4000' and not even any convection.

13th Mar 2003, 20:08
It is not getting better, the more one sees!:confused:

Costly tail strike puzzles experts

The cost of fixing a jumbo jet damaged in a tail strike accident at Auckland Airport could run into millions of dollars.

A former aircraft engineer, who did not want to be named, said the damage was significant and the cost would be huge. He had repaired an Air New Zealand plane in Fiji which had been damaged by a tail strike and there was no comparison, he said.

"This is a mess, and if the thin pressure bulkhead has been damaged, it will be a huge cost ... That plane won't be going anywhere for a while."

Pilot error or poor loading information are emerging as possible causes of the accident. But Singapore Airlines refuses to comment until a formal investigation is complete.

Flight SQ286, with 368 passengers and 20 crew, made an emergency landing about 20 minutes after taking off for Singapore on Wednesday.

As the pilot lifted off about 3pm, the tail of the Boeing 747-400 scraped the runway before the jet became airborne.

An Air New Zealand pilot and aircraft engineers the Herald spoke to yesterday blamed the rare accident on the over-rotation of the jet by the pilot, probably at too low a speed.

They made their assessments after viewing photos of the badly damaged tail and said they had never seen such a serious tail strike.

But Ken Sharp, director of aviation at Massey University, said it would be premature to blame the pilot.

While a 747-400 would be controlled by the pilot, he would be relying on technical information based on the plane's load.

If that had been incorrectly calculated, the pilot could pitch the nose of the plane at the wrong angle and too low a speed.

Mr Sharp said Boeing 747-400s were hugely reliable and Singapore Airlines had a good reputation for running safe operations with sound pilot training.

But an Air New Zealand pilot, who also did not want to be named, failed to see how the tail strike could be anything but pilot error.

The load was calculated by the captain and officers for a take-off performance certificate which should always be double-checked, he said.

"The investigators will have interviewed the crew and looked at their paperwork."

The experienced Boeing 747-400 pilot said tail strikes on take-off were almost unheard of.

Civil Aviation Authority figures show there have been only five recorded tail strikes at New Zealand airports in the past decade, and all involved pilot training and small planes.

Scratches on the paintwork on two Air New Zealand jumbos had indicated slight tail strike damage at overseas airports.

Auckland Airport said the airway was marked but not damaged by the tail strike.

Singapore Airlines spokesman Stephen Forshaw said it was too soon to say if pilot error was to blame for the incident, which left debris scattered on the runway and closed the airport for several hours.

The cause would not be known until the inquiry by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission was completed.

Mr Forshaw said the aircraft would remain on the ground for at least a fortnight and Singapore engineers had arrived yesterday to assess what appeared to be "quite serious" damage.

No one was hurt in the landing and all passengers resumed their journey to Singapore on a replacement aircraft flown in from Sydney.

The captain, who had more than 20 years' flying experience, and two officers had stayed in Auckland to help with inquiries.

Mr Forshaw said the captain had made an "overweight" landing with a full load of fuel on board.

The transport accident commission's investigator-in-charge, Ken Mathews, said the engineers would focus on damage to units under the skin including the auxiliary power unit and how that damage affected the airliner's structural integrity.

14th Mar 2003, 01:26

I’m yet again amazed at the way we ‘eat our young’ and are so damned quick to lay blame on a colleague without waiting for the evidence.

Aren't you jumping the gun just a bit? I haven't seen a single posting laying blame directly. A bit of innuendo perhaps and second hand "a pilot said" in the newspapers but nothing damning. Or have I missed something?


14th Mar 2003, 11:18
“A bit of innuendo perhaps” is exactly what I was railing against, broadbeach. If these guys screwed up, they’re going to be forced to live with for a very long time it in ways no one who hasn’t worked in Lyin’ City can even start to understand, so why do some people feel the need to start digging their professional grave for them before the company even begins an investigation?

My point was that every time something like this happens, the Monday Morning Quarterbacks come out in force within five minutes with “a bit of innuendo perhaps” while having absolutely no way of knowing what really did happen.

To repeat myself, while weather doesn’t appear to be an issue in this case, no one among the MMQ’s who posted here even took the time to consider it – in print at least. All the “bits of innuendo” immediately centred on the pilots’ maybe screwing up in some way. What is about this industry that people feel the need to share their opinions – (for that’s all they can be at an early stage after an accident) – with outsiders who often take this so-called “inside information” as holy writ?

14th Mar 2003, 12:40
What is about this industry that people feel the need to share their opinions – (for that’s all they can be at an early stage after an accident) – with outsiders who often take this so-called “inside information” as holy writ?

I come here to learn from reading these opinions and I don't consider myself an outsider.

So please folks, keep sharing.

14th Mar 2003, 18:41
I have been sent some photos by e-mail of the damage(a few quids worth!!),however being poor with computers I don't know how to get them on to the message board!!. Anyone know of a way,if so let me know and I'll post them.



14th Mar 2003, 21:04
sure it mat be the weather, it may be the load sheet, it may be the pilots .......no one is seeking to find blame.

the final answer will be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. unless it is 100% pilot error the airline will seek to distance itself from any/all culpibility.

for those wannabes, professionals and by-standers it is fair to talk about how these things occur, the causal factors, pitfuls and traps for both young and old.

no-one seeks to cast the first stone or to seek blame.......but we dont live long enough to make all the mistakes ourself.

there is no reason why this cannot be a learning experience and hence ideas and hypotheses should be welcome.

i have suffered a catastrophic failure that resulted in a major crash, there are things i could have done better....i'm happy to share them.

there are some good posts here, particularly from those who witnessed the event. no doubt bthere are posts from those who have suffered a simliar fate.......

be fair, be balanced but dont waste an opportunity to share to collective wisdom.

19th Mar 2003, 01:11
Looks like the crew might have entered a ZF weight into the FMC a hundred tons less than the real one, plus V speeds and an assumed temp consistent with the resulting erroneous TO weight.

Not sure what caused the apparent lack of cross-checks between the three pilots of the crew but I hope the airline’s blame and punishment culture allows an even handed approach to its investigation of an entrapment that we could all easily find ourselves in.

A bit more collective wisdom for us all to reflect on.

19th Mar 2003, 05:05
I really hope I am not proved wrong on this one but from my experience on the 744 with SIA when the load sheet arrives the captain reads out the ZFW and the TOW to the F/O who is usually doing the bug card. The bug card is then checked, the ZFW entered in the FMC and a cross check of the FMC and Loadsheet weights is done. As this would have been a two F/O flight they usually cross check each others book work also.
In ten years I certainly saw a few bug card errors but I can honestly say never gross, life threatening ones.

In addition one gets a certain'feel' for the ball-park TO speeds. If the ZFW was entered 90k below actual it would possibly be rejected by the FMC anyway? I would certainly expect the trim to be a very strange number, if in the green at all.

Just for what it is worth, the V speeds for 230K are about 25-27 kts less than for 320k and should stand out like a dogs..........

Dan Winterland
19th Mar 2003, 05:57
......and if it had a weight and balance computer. Does anyone Know if SQ 744s do?

19th Mar 2003, 09:05
Having returned from Singapore yesterday, word on the ground is that the aircraft had a large load sheet error, thus leading to the calculation of invalid takeoff data and V speeds insufficient to attain Vmu at a body angle of less than 12.5 deg.

Short of the flight crew supervising loading, you have to rely on the information provided by the Red Cap and load control.

19th Mar 2003, 09:24
Pandora. Just for info, a heavy landing always results in theory in so much as it must be checked out. Typically all wheels must be replaced and gear cycles must be done with the A/C on jacks. Its prett serious stuff!

Buster Hyman
19th Mar 2003, 11:33
Dan, I've done quite a few Load Sheets on the SQ 744 & you can rest assured, they do have the W&B computer thingy whatsit on board. I've even seen one come back to the gate because of it!

I can also confirm what Blue Eagle says. The Skipper reads it out to Gilligan who transcribes the figures onto his "bug" card.

Dogma. The Load Controllers are also relying on the check in staff to do accurate baggage weights, the pax to sit in their allocated seat, the cargo clerks to correctly advise the weight of the freight, and the ramp staff to correctly load the aircraft ....plenty of links in the chain down here too!:(

And whilst two signatures appear on the loadsheet, only one of them can afford the liability insurance!!!;)

19th Mar 2003, 20:47
From a source very close to the action I was told that the loadsheet and loading data was VERY quickly checked and found to be correct. I have no way of verifying this information and reserve my judgement until the facts are disclosed by the investigators.

20th Mar 2003, 17:09
Heard also the ULDs and loadsheet documentation was verified OK by investigators and weighed upon disembarkation after the incident. The popular explanation around here is the ZFW senario.
After a re-created a sim profile with low ZFW and assumed temp
the resulting takeoff didn't look pretty even with a slow rotate.
Do SIA tech crew get provided with an expected ZFW and also an explanation if it changes hugely when you get to the loadsheet point?
On the good side the damage is not as bad as originally feared,
the pressure bulkhead is OK (remember JAL Fuji) and Boeing AOG crew are now waiting for parts to start repairs.
Aircraft is outside the hanger and dressed up in black tape because hanger space is tight.

Buster Hyman
20th Mar 2003, 21:59
Karaka. Like most airlines, there is a certain tolerance to changes to the ZFW, just like the loadsheet. I can't remember exactly what SQ's change is, but if exceeded, a new plan needs to be requested, just like the loadsheet.

20th Mar 2003, 22:21
Would someone please post a link to some of the photographs, showing the damage to the tail area of this over rotation incident, not just links to the newspapers which originally published them.

Thank you.

21st Mar 2003, 01:52
Link (http://www.iasa.com.au/SIAscrape.htm)

That's the link you requested.

Tool Time Two
21st Mar 2003, 03:50
It is disturbing to read alleged comments from ANZ pilots using the term "pilot error" in this or any incident, before any investigative information has been released.
If accurate reporting, and that is debatable, it seems their memories are all too short.
Was there not a rush to blame the late Capt. Collins, commander of the ill-fated ANZ DC-10 which flew into Mt. Erebus in November 1979, by the then Chief investigator?
Did not the late Justice Mahon of the NZ High Court label the attempts to blame the crew as a "litany of lies", when in fact the aircraft was some 20 odd miles off course as a result of a navigational error on the flight plan produced to the pilot by the ANZ navigation department?
It ill behoves professional pilots to leap into blaming professional colleagues before ALL the facts are in hand.
There but for the grace of God.:cool:

21st Mar 2003, 09:23
Regarding the ZFW - stanard procedure would be to input the PLANNED ZFW and this would be shown on the CFP, when the load sheet arrived any adjustment required would be made.

The figure shown on the CFP was usually very close and any MAJOR change would have been passed to the crew in case they wanted to change the fuel load.

The pax load is well known beforehand and varies little, the cargo load can vary a lot if it was not fully ready etc. etc. and a pallet left off, such changes would be notified to load control and when the load sheet was given to the captain it would show the final, and if necessary, revised figure, this figure would also probably have already been passed to the aircraft via the company frequency, the captain would then input the revised figure.

An incorrectly insertwd ZFW figure of, say, 90K should have thrown up a number of alerts including unrealistic V speeds and trim setting.

21st Mar 2003, 22:43
Quote from :

A/c rotated prematurely below Vmu (min unstick spd) for its 385,000lbs brakes release wt, exceeding body angle 12.5deg. Forced to land heavily overweight after tailstrike caused APU fire indicn. O’shot first heavy appch

A quoted weight such as this, 385,000lbs brakes release wt, would reflect very poorly on your site's accuracy.



21st Mar 2003, 23:18
UNCTUOUS, thank you for the link, very interesting photos, Thermal.

Liam Gallagher
22nd Mar 2003, 01:07

Before doubting the accuracy of this site check the site you quote. 385,000lbs is about 175,000kgs; the basic weight (no load no fuel) of a 744 is about 160,000kgs.

Not unless the kg/lbs conversion is the problem!!! Just kidding....not speculating...honest....

Tool time...I see no posts from AirNZ pilots; to which posts do you refer??? Me thinks you protest too much

22nd Mar 2003, 01:40
Actually, I haven't seen a B744 with upgraded PES with basic weight (bare a/c with all legally required bits but no payload or fuel) below 170,000Kg. B744 with which I am familiar have a min in flt wt limit of about 170,000Kg.

22nd Mar 2003, 03:39
I think you'll find the 385,000Lbs is supposed to be kilograms.

22nd Mar 2003, 05:41
385T tow
5000 nm, GS 480ish = 10 1/2 hrs
10-11 t/hr = 110t
385-110 = 275LW

money to be made on that route if your kg hypothesis is correct Rev.


22nd Mar 2003, 06:35
Not hypothesis jtr but fact.

MTOW - 396,900Kgs (875,00Lbs)
MLW - 285,764Kgs
MZFW - 242,267Kgs.

22nd Mar 2003, 06:52
Tool Time Two

Get up to date, it was the findings of Mr Justice Mahon that ended up being discarded by the Court Of Appeal then the Privy Council. How could anyone who has never had anything to do with aviation even be asked to conduct the enquiry let alone be expected to come up with acceptable findings.


22nd Mar 2003, 06:53
not doubting you theory big fella, just noting the exceptional route performance if you are correct. 400 punters and 30t of cargo could make it possible.

Got to admit though, landing with 30t+ of gas seems a bit much if the Sing fuel policy stories are true.

22nd Mar 2003, 07:29
jtr Not sure what stories you have heard re SIA fuel policy, I've seen several people on PPRuNe suggesting it is 'tight', is that what you heard? If so I'm afraid someone has been telling you large porky pies!
Ask the majority of the ex BA, QF and CX pilots who have flown the B744 with SIA and they will tell you it is a most generous policy. Even then, in ten years on the a/c if ever I felt I needed more fuel I took it and my decision was never questioned once.

22nd Mar 2003, 08:16
I trust that Liam has now actually read what was written on the Safety site quoted, and realised who made the mistake.

The 'suggested' weight is similar to the empty weight of a B744, and if there was confusion on that site with mixed weights, then is it also possible that the load sheet may have had similar confusion?:confused:

For Prospector, there are many good documents that would suggest that your assessment of Justice Peter Mahon's findings are seriously in error.:(

Liam Gallagher
22nd Mar 2003, 09:30

Sorry there me old, I did look on the site however I homed in on the "your site" comment and thought because you are (presumably) addressing all of us, you meant the weights mentioned in pprune were in error...

Possum 15
22nd Mar 2003, 14:14
SQ having a bad run, as airlines often do. This morning at approx 0300 local one of their B777s gently rolled off stand D48 (?) at WSSS and into the grass. Either unattended, or attended by someone who couldn't manufacture brake pressure!

22nd Mar 2003, 18:34

There would be even more good documents that state it was Justice Mahon who was in error.


22nd Mar 2003, 19:45
last time i looked, the issue of this thread was about the singapore airlines jet, not about something that happened 24 yrs ago, give it a rest allready, some of us had family involved in that,

22nd Mar 2003, 22:06
I understand that P1 and P2 were ex A340. Both had limited experience on the B744. (P3 reasonably experienced on 744, but his attention may have been diverted elsewhere.)The weights entered into the FMC would not have been inappropriate for an A340, i.e. about 90-100 tonnes adrift, and therefore did not trigger alarm bells as far as ball park figures are concerned. Yes, they should have had a gut feeling that something didn't feel right, but........
Please accept that this is only what I have heard through the grapevine; I don't wish to prejudge. Almost 400 people walked away from what could have been a catastrophe. IF the crew erred in the first instance, they put the ship back on the ground with no injuries or loss of life.

22nd Mar 2003, 23:14

Agreed, only pointing out more than one point of view.


23rd Mar 2003, 00:06
Thanks Liam, no offense, and I probably didn't express myself as clearly as I should have.

For Prospector, I venture to suggest that Mr Justice Mahon's findings were NOT found to be in error either by the NZ Court of Appeal or the Privy Council.

It was his ability to make certain statements that was successfully challenged.

23rd Mar 2003, 08:06
Hey there G.K., not knowing that many who have flown for Sing (only one in fact), you are spot on, most of what I have heard is hearsay.
But are you saying it would be normal to arrive in WSSS with 30t?

23rd Mar 2003, 09:20
jtr No, 30t would be about three times too much!

Shore Guy
28th Mar 2003, 05:59
Yikes...some newer high resolution photos at:


sia sniffer
28th Mar 2003, 08:41
SIA will never change, well for the better that is. Thankfully this incident happened in a western country, and not one of Singapores puppet nations (Indonesia and Silk Air). A full inquiry will hopefully be made, and published, whithout SIA's interference(but dont hold your breath). SIA are still the worlds most arrogant airline to fly, but I think as industry insiders, we know what arrogance in aviation leads to.

Id love to see those puffed up chief pilots red faces on the fourth floor, when those tailstrike pics were released ! Remember me, guys? Ha Ha, expat F/Os united.....

28th Mar 2003, 08:41
Shore Guy, that hurt...

Thanks for the photos. Here is a little on the repair progress:

"SINGAPORE Airlines will start repair work next month on the Boeing 747 that was damaged and had to make an emergency landing in New Zealand two weeks ago.

The SIA plane was taking off from Auckland International Airport and heading for Singapore with nearly 400 passengers and crew on board when it dragged its tail on the runway and caused a cockpit fire-indicator to go off. It had to circle the airport for about half an hour before making the emergency landing.

SIA said damage to the aircraft was significant and repair work would take about 16 days.

Repairs will begin on April 11, when hangar space is available. The work will be done by engineers from Air New Zealand and Boeing under SIA's supervision.

Meanwhile, the pilot and first officer are both suspended from flying duty until an official inquiry is completed. They have been offered counselling, SIA added.

'It is our company policy in these cases that they are stood down pending the investigation. That happens with any serious incident,' said SIA spokesman Stephen Forshaw.

'It could be some time, but that is the nature of this type of incident.'

The pilot, 49, is believed to have been with SIA for about two years but has about 20 years of flying experience. He and the first officer will continue to receive their base salary, but without any flight bonus."

(Straits Times)

Wish those skippers best.

28th Mar 2003, 12:50
Sniffer, you don't change do you? Well, not for the better that is.

Your usually inaccurate 'sources' who provide you with so much mis-information and plainly wrong information have not let you down this time either.

The relevant details of this incident are now widely known within SIA and nobody is trying to hide anything, they are just waiting for the inquiry to be completed.

31st Mar 2003, 04:27
Nationality of the Captain not mentioned. Must be a Singaporean Captain. Remember SQ006, everytime the word Captain was mentioned it started with 'Malaysian'.

Similar tailstrike in 1992 in LAX but without serious damage. Second Officer (First Officer in training) at the controls. ATC notified the crew of possible tailstrike on takeoff. The Captain decided to continue to NRT.

31st Mar 2003, 04:37

Good 'ole captain KT was it? He was ALWAYS a problem, and very arrogant.

31st Mar 2003, 05:04

From very good source, the captain was expat and neither Singaporean or Malaysian

Anti Skid On
31st Mar 2003, 15:43
Anyone out there with the priviledges to merge this and the thread in Dunnunda and Godzone, as the discussion is similar to say the least!