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17th of September 2003, Hard Landing, Blog #617

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

With a crew of three and four passengers onboard a British Aerospace 3012 (Jetstream 31) was operating a scheduled flight between Aberdeen Dyce Airport and Wick Aiport (United Kingdom) on this day in 2003. The aircraft took off from Aberdeen at 14.14 lt (local time) with the commander as pilot monitoring (PM) and the co-pilot as pilot flying (PF). Directly after take off the flight encountered moderate turbulence but soon climbed into smoother air and stopped climbing once reaching FL 125 (Flight Level 125, 12500 feet on standard baro setting).

The aircraft hull after strip down (Source © Darren Wilson) Although first selecting and briefing for a runway 13 landing, Wick ATC informed the crew of a wind shift which resulted in a runway change. Runway 31 was now the landing runway. The crew re-briefed for a VOR/DME approach to Runway 31 at Wick. At approximately 20 nm the crew became visual with the field and informed Wick ATC accordingly. After receiving clearance for a visual approach the aircraft was fully configured, gear down & flaps 35, about 4 nm from the runway. During the approach, the commander coached the PF to correct a tendency to drift to the right of the centreline. During the approach, Wick ATC repeatedly gave wind updates to the crew, the first was 210°/17 kt, then 230°/19 kt, and, finally, 230°/17 kt. This caused the aircraft to fly with a drift to the right but remained well within the crosswind limit of 35 knots. At 1500 ft the flight encountered some turbulence and a negative windshear of approximately 15 knots at 900 feet. This was followed by an updraft causing the aircraft to become high on the glide path, resulting in 3 whites - 1 red on the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator).

FDR Data and data derived from the CVR (Source & © AAIB)

In anticipation of another windshear the PF reduced the power only slightly, less than normal to regain the flight path.

Vref (reference approach speed) was set at 103 knots with a landing weight of 12575 pounds. At 400 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) the airspeed was 130 knots, the aircraft crossed the displaced threshold slightly high and at a speed of approximately 120 knots. After the aircraft was flared and the throttles retarded to flight idle the aircraft floated at a height of approximately 6 feet while the speed slowly bled off. Just before touchdown, the PM monitoring noticed a small pitch-down movement. The aircraft touched down hard, bouncing 10 to 15 feet in the air, and bounced twice more before settling on the runway at the fourth touchdown. Reverse thrust was selected and the aircraft slowed down to a stop. The crew scanned their instruments and checked the outside from their cockpit windows before taxing to the terminal. There were no signs of anything being abnormal.

The aircraft hull after strip down (Source © Darren Wilson) Once parked the aircraft was shut down and the passengers disembarked. During the external preflight inspection, the commander found evidence of a propellor tip strike, further investigation revealed a light panel and a lot of passenger life vests had fallen down. The return flight was canceled. Subsequent inspection revealed extensive damage to the aircraft leading to it being written off as damaged beyond repair, damage was found at the;

  • Right propeller

  • Right main landing gear

  • Right rear wing spar, causing a fuel leak.

  • Left-wing

  • Fuselage

The accident was investigated by the United Kingdom Air Accident Investigation Branch. After an intensive investigation, they concluded that;

  1. It is reasonable that both PF and PM were making control inputs during the landing.

  2. After the first bounce, the aircraft became airborne in a high-drag low-lift configuration.

  3. The second touchdown was at 5.6g, causing the damage.

  4. There were no technical issues and the wind was within limits.

All details from the investigation (more than can be included in this blog) can be found in the AAIB report, which served as the source for this blog, by clicking on the .pdf file below;

17sep2003 Hard Landing Jetsream 31
Download PDF • 318KB

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