A Boeing 767-300 was operating a freight flight on this day in aviation history in 2016. After an uneventful flight from Louisville (Kentucky, USA)
the flight was approaching its destination, Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA), the captain was pilot flying with the co-pilot as pilot monitoring.
The damage to the aft fuselage being repaired (© NTSB)
The weather was windy, 090º at 20 knots, gusting to 29 knots. Base but with visual conditions. Based on, amongst others, the aircraft all-up weight for landing resulted in an approach speed of 146 knots
The crew received vectors for an ILS Approach to runway 03 at Albuquerque and intercepted the localiser and glideslope using the autopilot. At 1103 feet HAT (Heigth Above Touchdown) the autopilot was disconnected. The aircraft was fully configured for landing with the landing gear down and locked, the flaps at 30º and the speed at 145 knots while at 1000 feet HAT, meeting the operator's established approach criteria of the operator. At 500 feet HAT, the approach was still stabilised with the speed at 146 knots and a 23 knots crosswind from the right.
Close up of some of the damage to the lower fuselage (© NTSB)
At 158 feet HAT the approach was still stabilised and the Autothrottle was disconnected (operator guidance recommended the use of Autothrottle till 50 feet) From this point the aircraft pitch slowly increased, while the airspeed decreased slowly. At just under 2 seconds from touchdown, the airspeed had decayed to 129 knots while the pitch had increased to 7.2 degrees, with the crosswind down to 13 knots from the right. The aircraft touched down with an initial pitch attitude of 8.4º at an airspeed of 128 knots (18 knots below the calculated approach speed). The tail skid contacted the runway at touchdown followed by the lower aft fuselage when the pitch momentarily increased to 8.6º. The aircraft was de-rotated and decelerated normally, taxiing under its own power to its parking position. According to the crew they encountered a 10-knot wind loss just before touchdown with a firmer touchdown than normal. They didn't expect they had struck the tail skid.
An investigation was launched by the National Transportation Safety Board and concluded their report (available by clicking here), with the following Probable Cause and FIndings;
The pilot flying's failure to maintain airspeed and correct pitch attitude. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain appropriate thrust after disconnecting the autothrottles. Also contributing was the first officer's failure to monitor the decaying airspeed and increasing pitch.