An interim report on the China Airlines (CAL) Boeing MD-11 crash at Hong Kong details a well flown final approach which turned to disaster within seconds of touchdown. Three people died and 50 were injured in the 22 August accident.

With typhoon "Sam" nearby, air traffic control reported the wind just before the MD-11's touchdown on runway 25L as 320¼ at 28kt, gusting 36kt, giving a crosswind just above the airline's maximum of 24kt (50km/h) for a wet runway MD-11 landing, the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Authority reports. Flying manually with autothrottle engaged, the captain had reported "runway in sight" at 700ft (220m), just over 3km (2nm) to touchdown. Given the stormy conditions, the captain chose an approach speed of 170kt, 18kt above touchdown reference speed.

With the crosswind from the right, the captain kept the right wing slightly low during the flare, but flaring did not arrest the sink rate and the aircraft touched down "hard" on the right main gear. The aircraft was almost at maximum landing weight.

Immediately after touchdown, the report says: "The-right engine cowling impacted the runway and there was an outbreak of fire followed by the detachment of the wing. The left wing, which remained intact, lifted up and the aircraft commenced a roll and yaw to the right which could not be corrected, and ended up in an inverted, reversed position."

A FedEx MD-11F suffered a similar accident at New York Newark in July 1997. In a very hard touchdown, the right engine scraped along the ground, the right wing broke and the aircraft came to a halt upside down.

Source: Flight International