During the takeoff roll, the Airbus A320 handling pilot needed to apply full nose-down elevator for a longer time than was normal. Despite the elevator position, the nosewheel momentarily lifted off the runway several times before the aircraft became airborne.
The crew did not consider the situation to be a threat to safety and completed the flight as scheduled. However, as the aircraft was being unloaded, the nose of the aircraft rose rapidly until the nose landing gear oleo was fully extended. The crew received the electronic centralised aircraft monitoring system (ECAM) message L/G LGCIU 1 AND 2 FAULT. The ground engineer instructed the catering truck driver to remove the catering truck from door R1 immediately. The cabin crew briefly stopped passenger disembarkation due to concerns that the step from the aircraft to the aerobridge was unsafe.
The aircraft carried 136 passengers out of a maximum of 138. Only two seats in Business Class were empty. The aircraft also carried 700 kg of freight and 1131 kg of baggage in two forward and two aft compartments.
The nose landing gear oleo had been slightly over-inflated, but engineers did not consider that to be a problem requiring rectification. Prior to the latest inflation, the aircraft had operated with the leg slightly under-inflated. Engineers stated that the increase on oleo inflation would not have resulted in the leg fully extending on the ground.
The loading instruction report (LIR) indicated that the computed centre of gravity was well within the permissible range, 34.6% mean aerodynamic chord (MAC) compared to the aft limit of 40% MAC. The operator had a policy of not exceeding 38% MAC.
The loading gang at the destination reported that there was no discrepancy between the LIR and the distribution of the load in the cargo holds. However, loading crews had developed a procedure of loading priority baggage into the number 1 cargo hold to facilitate rapid unloading at the destination. Under some circumstances, that could lead to reduced weight on the nose landing gear until cargo stowed further aft had been unloaded.
The operator is trialling a variation to procedure, requiring loading crews to load priority baggage in the number 5 cargo hold to avoid the problem of the aircraft becoming light on the nose landing gear during unloading.
|Date:||02 June 1999||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1800 hours EST|
|State:||Australian Capital Territory||Occurrence type:||Loading related|
|Release date:||07 December 1999||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Airbus Industrie|
|Type of operation||Air Transport High Capacity|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|
|Departure point||Canberra, ACT|
|Departure time||1800 hours EST|