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Late bank preceded MD-83 wing-strike

Attempts to correct a Boeing MD-83's leftward drift during flare preceded the aircraft's striking its right wing on the ground while landing at the Afghan city of Kandahar.

The aircraft's wing hit the ground 20m (65ft) before the threshold, and before main-gear contact, after the captain banked the jet to the right.

It destroyed five threshold lights and the impact bent the last 3.6m of the wing "significantly" upwards, says Spanish investigation authority CIAIAC.

The outer leading-edge slat was severely damaged, as were the outer aileron and trim tab, while damage was also inflicted on the wing-tip, as well as slats and flaps further inboard.

CIAIAC adds that the entire underside of the outer wing area suffered "considerable scratches and tears", although it says: "According to the crew's statement the passengers were not really aware of the contact between the wing and the ground."

Operated by Spanish carrier Swiftair, the MD-83 had been conducting a GPS-based approach to Kandahar's runway 05 after a service from Dubai on 24 January 2012.

It emerged from cloud at about 1,500ft before the minimum, set 394ft from ground level, and established runway visual contact at 500ft above - at which point the crew noticed they were slightly right of the centreline.

The captain, who had over 3,300h on type, took over the last phase of the approach and corrected the course to the left.

But during the flare the crew noticed the jet was "shifting to the left, threatening to take them off the runway", says CIAIAC. The captain applied right bank, and the aircraft's wing hit the ground.

While the inquiry has yet to finalise its conclusions, CIAIAC's interim update says that the investigators are focusing on the approach made, the clearance and the crew's ability to execute it. The aircraft had been operating under a wet-lease for South Africa's Gryphon Airlines. None of the 91 occupants was injured.

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