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On 20 August 2005, at about 1340 Central Standard Time, a British Aerospace 146-300 (146-300) aircraft, registered VH-NJN, with a crew of five and 60 passengers, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Cairns, Qld, to Alice Springs, NT. The first officer was the handling pilot for the visual approach and landing to runway 12 at Alice Springs Airport.

The flight crew reported that, at about 50 ft above the ground, the aircraft rate of descent (ROD) increased significantly from what had previously been a 'normal' approach. Despite action by both flight crew members to arrest the increased ROD, the aircraft landed heavily and bounced into the air. The captain commanded a go-around for a second landing on runway 12.

A subsequent engineering inspection of the aircraft identified damage to the tailscrape indicator, indicating that a tail strike had occurred. There were no reported injuries to the crew or passengers, and there was no significant damage to the runway surface or other facilities.

The aircraft's rate of descent immediately prior to touchdown was consistent with that published by the aircraft manufacturer as a contributing factor in the development of a landing tail strike in a 146-300 aircraft. That, coupled with a landing nose-up pitch attitude that approached 7° with the oleos compressed appeared to have made a tail strike inevitable in this incident.

In response to this occurrence, the operator has amended its British Aerospace 146-300 Training Manual to reflect the information provided by the aircraft manufacturer with regard to aircraft pitch angles on landing.

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