Aviation safety investigations & reports

Accredited Representative to UK AAIB investigation of a tail strike involving a Qantas, B787-9 registered VH-ZND, London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom, 9 February 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final report

The occurrence

On 9 February 2020, a Qantas Airways Boeing 787-900, registered VH-ZND, departed on a flight from London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom to Perth Airport, Australia. Shortly after initiation of aircraft rotation,[1] the flight crew received a caution message indicating that the tail strike prevention system had been triggered. After performing the relevant checks the flight crew returned the aircraft for an overweight landing at Heathrow Airport.


The United Kingdom Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) was responsible for the investigation into this occurrence. As Australia is the State of Registration of the aircraft, the AAIB requested appointment of an Accredited Representative from the ATSB.

To facilitate this request, the ATSB initiated an external investigation under the provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.


The AAIB investigation concluded that, during conditions of strong and gusty winds, a high pitch rate near lift-off caused the trail strike sensor to contact the runway surface. This resulted in activation of the aircraft’s tail strike prevention system and generation of an Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System TAIL STRIKE message. While the tip of the sensor was abraded due to contact with the runway, no further damage was found.

The final report of the investigation conducted by the AAIB can be found at AAIB investigation to Boeing 787-900, VH-ZND (www.gov.uk)

Any further information regarding this investigation should be directed to the AAIB via: enquiries@aaib.gov.uk



The information contained in this update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the AAIB investigation of the occurrence.

  1. Rotation: the positive, nose-up, movement of an aircraft about the lateral (pitch) axis immediately before becoming airborne..
General details
Date: 09 February 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Location: London Heathrow    
State: International    
Release date: 04 February 2021   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 787-9  
Aircraft registration VH-ZND  
Operator Qantas  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point London Heathrow, United Kingdom  
Destination Perth, Australia  
Last update 04 February 2021