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Tail-heavy Airliner Aborts Takeoff

If a cabin crew has ever asked you to change seats on a commercial airliner and you wondered why, this story is for you!

An Alitalia Airbus A320 had to abort its takeoff at Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy after suffering a tail strike that is being attributed to the mismatched seating of passengers.  According to the Italian aviation investigation authority ANSV, the single-aisle airliner pitched up at just 42 knots on its Rome-bound flight.  Fortunately, the crew was able to abort the takeoff, and no one was injured.

The ANSV reported that 171 passengers boarded the aircraft in Hamburg, Germany.  Sixty-eight passengers were bound for Milan and 103 for the flight’s final destination, Rome.  In an attempt to speed up the disembarkation process in Milan, boarding agents seated the Milan-bound passengers in the front of the cabin.  The Rome-bound passengers were seated in the center and rear segments.  Additionally, the Milan passengers’ luggage was loaded in the front cargo hold of the Airbus to facilitate unloading in Milan.  After the Milan passengers deplaned, the Airbus left the gate for the Milan-Rome flight with all its passengers and luggage in the center and rear sections of the aircraft.

Because Hamburg was outside Alitalia’s usual network, weight-and-balance data were not electronically uploaded, but rather delivered in email and printed form.  Handlers in Milan assumed, mistakenly, that the data was appropriate for the final leg of the multi-sector trip.