Updated: Jan 17, 2022
The crew for the scheduled flight from Glasgow (Scotland) to Benbecula (~254 mile / 408 kilometres North West of Glasgow). reported 1 hour before the scheduled departure time of 07.20lt. Flight planning was completed quickly and the required fuel for the flight was ordered. 45 minutes before scheduled departure the crew was at the aircraft, An Saab SF340B
A Saab 340B (Source www.militaryfactory.com)
As it was a Saturday besides the passengers a load of newspapers was carried in the cabin. Special "seatconverters" were installed on the seats of row 8 till 11 inclusive for the carriage of the newspapers. After the 10 passengers had boarded and all luggage and cargo were loaded, the flight was ready for departure. The cabin attendant informed the Captain about the actual seating of the passengers, which was found to be in accordance with the load sheet. The engines were started and at 07.27 local time the aircraft took off for its flight to Benbecula. Take-off was uneventful and with the AutoPilot engaged the aircraft climbed to its cruise level, FL145. During the cruise, the weather for the destination was received, as well as the expected landing runway at Benbecula, runway 24.
The crew became visual with the runway at approximately 12 miles from the runway and continued for a visual approach. 5 miles from touchdown the AutoPIlot was disconnected and the aircraft was fully configured for landing.
The damage to the lower rear fuselage. The black area at the bottom of the picture is the abraded mounting point for the tail support (Source www.aaib.go.uk)
The aircraft touchdown normally but the nose could not be lowered to the runway, even with the control column at its forward stop, the nose attitude remained high, so high that the tail struck the runway. Using reverse thrust and (differential) braking the Captain attempted to lower the nose, initially to no avail. It was only when the speed had dropped to approximately 40 knots that the nosewheel lowered onto the runway and the aircraft stopped, before taxiing under its own power to the parking stand and being shut down. There were no injuries to any of the occupants, The aircraft suffered damage to its rear lower fuselage, and the tail support mounting point was worn away. As the tail support could not be installed the cargo and baggage was removed from the baggage compartment before the passengers were allowed to disembark.
The Centre of Gravity diagram for the incident flight, with reference information (Source www.aaib.gov.uk)
An investigation was launched and it became apparent that the aircraft Weight and Balance had been significantly out of limits for all phases of the flight. The was caused by the misloading of the aircraft due to a failure in communication during the aircraft loading procedure. A 'flight closure message' was not received by the dispatcher.
This resulted in a required change of passenger seating, to bring the aircraft Centre of Gravity with limits, not being passed to the crew. So when the crew checked the passenger distribution on the load sheet they were using (unbeknown to them) incorrect data. To avoid reoccurrence both the operator and the handling agent amended the Weight and Balance procedure. The full investigation report is accessible by clicking here.