A tailstrike is when the rear end of the aircraft comes in to contact with the runway and can occur in either the landing and take off stages of flight. Tail strikes occur more frequently druring landing and current statistics show that 65% of all tailstrikes occur during landing with pilot error being stated as the course in most cases. Weather factors are the second leading cause of tailstrikes.
Causes of Tailstrikes
Causes during take off
- Poor rotation techniques either due to an early rotation at an inappropriate speed and late rotation resulting in sudden rapid corrections both cause a high pitch attitude and subsequent tail strike.
- Heavy aircraft with poor thrust to weight ratio hampers the performance of aircraft during take off
- The proper selection of flaps configuration gives the aircraft added lift for take off and reduces an excessive high pitch attitude
Causes During Landing
Unstabilized Approach to the Runway
- During final approach at low altitude, too low a speed results in an aircraft having an excessive nose high attitude; compounded by the need for pilots to flare the aircraft for landing, can result in a tail strike due to inadequate separation with the tail and ground.
- A sudden increase in sink rate of the aircraft just prior to landing would also cause pilots to adopt a nose high attitude to prevent a heavy landing, causing a tail strike.
- A pilot who flares the aircraft too high during landing
In the vast majority of cases, tailstrikes are not considered as being incredibly deadly, in most cases the aircraft will simply climb out to a safe altitude and dump fuel before returning to the airfield to make a precautionary landing, in most cases tailstrikes are nothing more than an expensive inconvenience to the company as the aircraft will nee to be ground whilst maintanence inspections are performed.