Aviation safety investigations & reports

Hard landing involving an Airbus A330, 9M-MTA, Melbourne Airport, Victoria on 14 March 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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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”.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.46MB]

The occurrence

Safety analysis


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General details
Date: 14 March 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 12:00 ESuT   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Melbourne Airport    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Hard landing  
Release date: 05 April 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

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  
Last update 14 November 2018