German investigators have yet to release initial findings about the recent highly public wing-strike incident involving a Lufthansa Airbus A320 at Hamburg, but the carrier says the crew was offered an alternative runway before embarking on its crosswind approach.
Lufthansa flight LH044 had been arriving on a domestic service from Munich on 1 March, a day when Germany was experiencing violent winds as a storm cell crossed Europe. Germany's national weather service had issued warnings about the conditions and data from Hamburg indicated gusts approaching 50kt (93km/h).
Runway 23 was in use at Hamburg when the incident occurred, around 13:45. Weather information shows the winds were from the north-west, which meant an approach to this runway was subject to strong crosswinds.
Lufthansa says air traffic controllers "offered to the pilot" runway 33. This runway, at 3,666m (12,030ft), is slightly longer and allows an approach on a more north-westerly heading. Runway 23 was the one designated for landings at the time, says the airline, adding that it is equipped with better instrument landing and guidance systems than 33.
"Just before the final touchdown, there was a gusting crosswind from the side," says Lufthansa. The aircraft's left wing-tip struck the runway, bending the wing-fence and causing minor damage to the wing surface, before the crew aborted the landing and executed a go-around.
The crew made a second attempt to land at Hamburg, this time opting for an approach to runway 33, and touched down without further incident. None of the 131 passengers and five crew members was injured. The incident is under investigation by German accident investigation agency BFU.
Video footage shows that, an instant before the main landing-gear contacted the runway, the A320 (D-AIQP) rolled sharply, initially about 20° to the left, before the wing-tip touched the ground. The aircraft then drifted far to the left of the runway centreline, rolling a few degrees to the right to recover, before climbing away.