"Tailstrike" May Write Off A340

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An Australian newspaper is reporting that a $180 million Emirates Airbus A340-500 may be beyond repair and the 225 people who were on it last March 20 are lucky to be alive after a nasty scrape at Melbourne International Airport. New details have emerged about the mishap, which has been declared an accident by the Australia Transport Safety Bureau and resulted in the resignations of both pilots aboard. According to the Sunday Herald Sun the aircraft was bound for Dubai when it failed to get airborne before the end of Melbourne's 12,000-foot runway. The paper reported the flight crew yanked the big airliner off the overrun, scraping the tail in the process. It appears, from the description, the 340 flew in ground effect about two feet off the ground for about 400 yards, wiping out three approach strobes, which are about 30 inches high, and the localizer antenna, before barely clearing the eight-foot perimeter fence.

The aircraft was able to climb out and the crew was going to dump fuel but according to The Aviation Herald the crew elected to head immediately back for a landing after smoke filled the cabin. The landing gear was reportedly damaged by the heavily loaded aircraft on landing. Other reports suggest the crew was able to dump fuel before returning. Pictures on the Aviation Herald Web site show damage extending at least 30 feet on the underside of the tail. The Herald Sun, citing unnamed sources, said serious structural damage also occurred and it may not be feasible to fix it. Emirates has not commented on the details of the mishap and the TSB's preliminary report is expected within a month. The TSB is reportedly looking into whether incorrect weight data was input into the flight computer, resulting in the computer's selecting an incorrect takeoff power setting.