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Iberia retrieves A340-600 damaged in Quito hard landing

Iberia has retrieved an Airbus A340-600 damaged in a hard landing at Quito, but has yet to determine when the aircraft will re-enter airline service.

The aircraft touched down hard on Quito’s runway 18, in good weather, following a service from Madrid on 11 August.

Its crew belatedly aborted the landing, executing a go-around before making a second approach.

Video footage purportedly capturing the landing shows the nine-year old aircraft (EC-LEU) apparently bouncing after the hard contact before climbing away.

Iberia says the aircraft has been returned to Madrid. It flew back from Quito on 27 August.

“We don’t know yet when it can go back to operations,” the airline adds.

French investigation authority BEA, citing Ecuadorian counterparts, says the aircraft suffered a tyre burst on its central main landing-gear bogie.

The A340-600’s centre bogie is fitted with four wheels. BEA says the landing affected tyre 10.

After the aircraft parked, it adds, some 75% of the tyre’s tread surface was found to have detached. The inspection also determined that the braking system for the rear wheels of the centre gear was leaking hydraulic fluid.

Quito’s Mariscal Sucre international airport opened in 2013, succeeding the old airport – which had the same name – located 15km to the west.

One of Iberia’s A340-600s suffered an overrun accident at this predecessor airport in November 2007, after its crew sought to descend below the ILS glideslope in order to use the full length of the runway rather than track to the displaced threshold.

The aircraft – approaching in poor weather and a tailwind – landed hard, with an impact of around 3g, bursting tyres and causing damage to crucial systems, preventing the A340 from decelerating sufficiently before reaching the end of the 3,120m runway. While all those on board survived the accident, the jet (EC-JOH) was written off.

Investigators recommended that Iberia should ensure that A340-600 crews receive specific simulator training on the variant, even if they were familiar with the A340-300. The inquiry also advised Iberia to make sure that crews operating to Quito obtain sufficient experience of the local topography and wind conditions, and strictly observe the criteria for conducting a go-around.

Quito’s current international airport has a longer runway, at 4,100m, than the former facility.

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