Croatian investigators believe a late shift in tailwind preceded an SAS Airbus A320neo’s loss of lift just before touchdown in Split, leading to a tail-strike.

The aircraft, arriving from Bergen, had been stabilised during an ILS approach to runway 05.

But winds were varying from 170-245°, and a 10kt change in tailwind gradient occurred as the jet descended below 70ft.

This caused the aircraft to lose lift and, although the crew commanded more nose-up pitch at 55ft, the descent rate increased to 650ft/min.

SAS A320neo-c-SAS

Source: SAS

Investigators cited a tailwind change before touchdown as contributing to the event

Pitch continued to increase in the final 25ft, triggering an automatic call-out as it reached 13° and prompting a nose-down command.

Runway contact occurred with an impact of 1.65g and the aircraft started to pitch up again – which the inquiry attributes to flight-control laws responding after the angle-of-attack protection system activated just before touchdown.

The pitch increased to 13.4° – generating another call-out – and the aircraft’s tail struck the runway surface.

SAS A320neo tail-strike-c-Croatia accident investigation agency

Source: Croatia accident investigation agency

Aft fuselage underside damage to SE-ROJ following the tail-strike

None of the 174 occupants on the A320neo (SE-ROJ) was injured during the incident, on 4 September 2021, but the jet sustained tail-scrape damage, mainly between frames 68 and 72.

Investigators from the Croatian accident investigation agency have cited the tailwind change and “flight technique” as having contributed to the event.