Australian Government launches Probe launched into Singapore Airlines ‘tail strike’ flight SQ238
- Melbourne Airport Air traffic controllers warn pilot of smoke or dust coming from the rear of the aircraft on take-off
- Singapore Airlines pilot of the Boeing 777-300, with 282 passengers and crew on board, took the risk to continue to Singapore instead of returning to the airport to check for possible damage
- In the event of a confirmed tail strike, QANTAS policy is to turn the aircraft around
- Singapore Airlines confirmed that an engineers’ inspection of Flight 238 on its arrival in Singapore had revealed a tail strike with contact with the tail skid system. The aircraft is being repaired.
- Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating
Australia’s air safety watchdog has launched an investigation into a “tail strike” at Melbourne airport on Sunday where a Singapore Airlines captain flew on to Singapore despite being warned by air traffic controllers of smoke or dust coming from the rear of the aircraft on take-off.
The event has raised debate in the aviation sector about the wisdom of the pilot of the Boeing 777-300, with 282 passengers and crew on board, deciding to not return to the airport to check for possible damage.
A Qantas spokeswoman told The Australian: “In the event of a confirmed tail strike, our policy is to turn the aircraft around.”
A Singapore Airlines spokesman yesterday confirmed that an engineers’ inspection of Flight 238 on its arrival in Singapore had revealed a tail strike, but said it did not risk the integrity of the plane. “The inspection in Singapore confirmed there was no contact with the fuselage, (but) there had been contact with the tail skid system,” he said. “The affected component is being repaired and the aircraft is expected to return to service (today).”
He added: “Safety of our customers is our No 1 priority.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigation. The aircraft took off on a day that saw wild winds, and the main runway was closed for 30 minutes as engineers inspected for damage after the accident.
“Following advice from air traffic control that a suspected tail strike had occurred, the captain confirmed there was no aircraft system alert of a tail strike and conducted further checks,” said the Singapore Airlines spokesman. “These checks, undertaken to confirm that all aircraft systems and parameters are normal as according to the tail strike checklist, also showed no indication of a tail strike and as such the decision was made to proceed.”
In 2009 at Melbourne airport, an Emirates Airbus A340-500 struck its tail three times, and sustained $100 million damage as it barely cleared the airport boundary fence before returning to make an emergency landing.
A tail strike led to the deadliest single aircraft accident in history in 1985 when a poorly repaired bulkhead on a Japan Airlines 747SR gave way several years later, leading to the loss of 520 people when it crashed.
Reported by The Australian on 11 October 2016.