The FLYBE flight G-JEDR was on a VOR approach to Southampton Airport in icing conditions when, as the first stage of flap was selected, the amber FLAP POWER caution illuminated on the Caution and Warning Panel (CWP) and the flaps remained up. The crew calculated that the runway at Southampton Airport was not long enough for a flap 0° approach in icing conditions and decided to carry out an ILS approach to Runway 08 at Bournemouth Airport. The weather conditions reported at Bournemouth Airport were wind from 050° at 10 kt, 10 km visibility, broken cloud at 1,500 ft aal, and a temperature of 1°C.
Seven miles from touchdown on the final approach to Bournemouth Airport, the aircraft’s landing gear was down, its speed was stabilised at a VREF of 150 kt IAS and its attitude was 5° nose-up. At 1,000 ft aal, the commander disconnected the autopilot and began to fly manually, in accordance with the Emergency Check List (ECL). When the FLYBE flight G-JEDR was within approximately 2 nm of the runway, the co-pilot began to call out the aircraft’s pitch attitude. As the aircraft approached the touchdown point, the commander perceived a high rate of descent and increased the pitch attitude to reduce it.
The co-pilot of FLYBE flight G-JEDR called “PITCH 8°, DON’T PITCH ANY MORE” but, as the aircraft touched down, a Master Warning was triggered and the crew observed the TOUCHED RUNWAY caption illuminate on the CWP.
The aircraft vacated the runway and taxied to a parking stand, where the pilots carried out a normal shutdown. An inspection of the aft lower fuselage of the aircraft revealed that the frangible touch runway detection switch was broken.
The rate of descent required for a flap 0° approach is significantly higher than for a normal approach but the operator’s pilots practise flap 0° approaches in the simulator only once every three years. Consequently, the incident aircraft pilot’s perception of a high rate of descent might be expected of most of the operator’s pilots when flying a flap 0° approach. The FLYBE flight G-JEDR rate of descent was already higher than required when the pilot began to reduce power towards FLT IDLE in accordance with the ECL instructions. The reduction in power would probably have increased the rate of descent further in the absence of any other action. However, the pilot increased the aircraft pitch attitude at the same time, and the aft lower fuselage struck the runway.
The manufacturer considered that sufficient information was provided in the AFM to enable crews to control high rates of descent during abnormal flap landings. A note in the AFM section regarding normal landings indicated that power may remain applied until touchdown to reduce the rate of descent and the manufacturer stated that this technique is also applicable to the abnormal flap landing case. The manufacturer also commented that, in abnormal flap landings, the pitch attitude is so close to the pitch limit that a fare is not possible and power will be maintained until main wheel contact.