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Occurrence Report Details
Report Details
Investigation 03-003
Boeing 747-412 9V-SMT, flight SQ286, tail strike during take-off, Auckland International Airport, 12 March 2003
On Wednesday 12 March 2003, at 1547, flight SQ286, a Boeing 747-412 registered 9V-SMT, started its take off at Auckland International Airport for a direct 9 hour flight to Singapore. On board were 369 passengers, 17 cabin crew and 3 pilots.

When the captain rotated the aeroplane for lift off the tail struck the runway and scraped for some 490 metres until the aeroplane became airborne. The tail strike occurred because the rotation speed was 33 knots less than the 163 knots required for the aeroplane weight. The rotation speed had been mistakenly calculated for an aeroplane weighing 100 tonnes less than the actual weight of 9V SMT.

A take off weight transcription error, which remained undetected, led to the miscalculation of the take off data, which in turn resulted in a low thrust setting and excessively slow take off reference speeds. The system defences did not ensure the errors were detected, and the aeroplane flight management system itself did not provide a final defence against mismatched information being programmed into it.

During the take-off the aeroplane moved close to the runway edge and the pilots did not respond correctly to a stall warning. Had the aeroplane moved off the runway or stalled a more serious accident could have occurred.

The aeroplane take off performance was degraded by the inappropriately low thrust and reference speed settings, which compromised the ability of the aeroplane to cope with an engine failure and hence compromised the safety of the aeroplane and its occupants.

Safety recommendations addressing operating procedures and training were made to the operator, and a recommendation concerning the flight management system was made to the aeroplane manufacturer.

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