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15th of June 2019

Updated: Jun 15

A 1997-built Boeing 757 was scheduled to operate a domestic flight between Denver (Colorado, USA) and Newark (New Jersey, USA). While two flight crew members were completing the final flight preparations, the four cabin crew members welcomed the 166 passengers.

The damaged nose section of the aircraft (Source: pbs.twimg.com © Unknown


The captain would be the pilot monitoring (pm) with the co-pilot the pilot flying (pf). The flight was part of the Initial Operating Experience (set amount of flight hours after completing training, in accordance with CFR § 121.434) for the copilot.


After pushback from the gate and engine start the aircraft taxied to the runway and an uneventful take-off, climb and cruise followed. As discussed before the flight the landing in Newark would be made with the "Auto Speedbrake System" as it had been deferred in accordance with the Minimum Equipment List (MEL), this meant that the pilot monitoring would manually deploy the spoilers on touch-down. As the aircraft descended towards its destination the approach briefing was completed, once again discussing the non-availability of the "Auto Speedbrake System". The approach to runway 22 was stable and flown with a corrected Final Approach Speed (Vref) due to gusting winds (220º/14 knots Gusting 22 knots), this in accordance with the company procedures. As the aircraft descended through 500 feet the approach was still stable, with the aircraft 'on speed'. The touchdown was smooth, on the centre line and in the touchdown zone. With the mainwheels on the ground, the captain deployed the speed brakes, causing the nose of the aircraft to pitch up. In an effort to avoid a tailstrike the captain physically blocked the control column from moving backwards. The captain also instructed the co-pilot to pitch forward, The aircraft bounced on the runway and was brought to a stop on the runway. Passengers were disembarked via stairs brought to the aircraft.

Close up of the damaged nose section (Source: aviation-safety.net © Hans Hultgren)


The NTSB (National Transporation Safety Board) was alerted and they started an investigation into the accident. The Fairchild Flight Data Recorder was downloaded and the data was analysed as part of the investigation. It revealed the following sequence of events;

  • 12:54.54 local time (lt) Aircraft on final approach to runway 22L, manual flight, both flight directors on

  • 12:55.14 lt With a pitch angle of +2.8º (nose up) the main landing gear touches down

  • 12:55.16 lt Variations in vertical acceleration, control column position and elevator deflection increase in magnitude

  • 12:55.17 lt The aircraft becomes airborne again for one second

  • 12:55.18 lt The aircraft touches down again

  • 12:55.19 lt The aircraft becomes airborne again for one second

  • 12:55.20 lt The nose gear touches down for the first time with a vertical acceleration of 1.6042 G and both the thrust reverser deploy.

The damage to the aircraft was substantial;

  1. Extensive structural damage to the forward fuselage, between stations 41 and 43.

  2. Twelve skin panels damaged

  3. Eleven stringers severed on the right-hand side

  4. Twelve buckled stringers on the left-hand side

  5. Damaged secondary structure

  6. Damaged nose landing gear

  7. Damaged nose landing gear support structure

  8. Damaged main gear tires

The damage was so extensive that the airframe was written off as damaged beyond repair.


The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident to be;


"An improper landing flare, which resulted in a bounced landing and substantial damage."

The Final Report by the NTSB is available by clicking on the file below

NTSB Report_DCA19CA167 N26123
.pdf
Download PDF • 138KB

Recovery of the aircraft (Source: Twitter.com © @ZachHonig)

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