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Pitch-up during go-around led to 737-900 tail-strike

Japanese investigators believe a Korean Air Boeing 737-900 suffered a tail-strike at Osaka's Kansai airport as it pitched up during a go-around, after the aircraft bounced on landing.

The aircraft (HL7725) had conducted its approach to runway 06L in a tailwind and the captain, who was flying, opted to reduce thrust to idle earlier than usual in order to avoid a long touchdown.

But as the aircraft entered the flare at 30ft, with 2° nose-up attitude, the first officer felt the rate of descent was excessive. He intervened – without making any call-out – by pulling the control column aft.

The aircraft pitch increased to 3.5° as it touched down with an impact of 1.87g. Its main landing-gear weight-on-wheels switches activated and the spoilers began to deploy.

But the captain, unable to ascertain the extent of the hard landing, expected the aircraft to bounce and opted to execute a go-around.

The aircraft made runway contact a second time, with a 1.66g impact, and flight-data recorder information shows the aircraft's pitch then increased from about 7° to some 10° – above the 8.2° threshold for a tail-strike.

"It is highly probable that the lower aft fuselage of the aircraft was damaged [by] contacting the runway because its pitch angle became too high," says the Japan Transport Safety Board, in its probe into the event on 9 April last year.

It states that the excessive pitch was probably the result of the captain's attempt to avoid the second runway contact by pulling the nose up.

None of the 99 occupants, which included eight crew members, was injured but the aircraft sustained cracks and scratch marks to its aft fuselage underside over a length of 2m, and its tail-skid was broken.

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