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What happened

On 14 March 2015 Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330, registered 9M-MTA, began its approach to Melbourne (Tullamarine) after a flight from Kuala Lumpur. In the final stages of the approach, at approximately 50 feet, the captain reported feeling the aircraft sink and manually increased the thrust to the engines in an attempt to slow the rate of descent. Despite this action, the aircraft experienced a hard landing of a magnitude requiring replacement of the aircraft’s main landing gear. There were no reported injuries as a result of the occurrence.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that as a result of the pilot flying’s control inputs after disengaging the autopilot (approximately 700 feet above the ground), the final approach had become unstable, descending below the desired vertical profile. The continuation of the approach and an inappropriate attempt to recover the situation led to a high rate of descent at touch down.

What has been done as a result

Soon after the event, the operator circulated a memorandum to their A330 flight crew highlighting the incident and advising of the relevant procedures intended to minimise the chances of a similar occurrence. The flight crew involved also undertook additional training and assessment before returning to flight duties.

Safety message

A stable approach significantly reduces the risk of a hard landing.

If an approach does become unstable, a rushed attempt to recover the approach may produce an undesirable aircraft response. There is also a risk of breaking down the shared understanding between the pilots, which in turn limits the opportunity of the other flight crew to detect or react to inappropriate actions.

When landing, pilots should maintain a safety philosophy of “if in doubt, go around”.

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The occurrence

Safety analysis


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General details
Date: 14 March 2015 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 12:00 ESuT  
Location   (show map):Melbourne Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Hard landing 
Release date: 05 April 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus 
Aircraft model: A330-343E 
Aircraft registration: 9M-MTA 
Serial number: 1209 
Operator: Malaysia Airlines 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Destination:Melbourne, Vic
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Last update 14 November 2018