An American Airlines Boeing 757-200 suffered a tail strike while landing at McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas. The incident occurred on March 21st, 2020 with American Airlines flight number AA-2341 flying from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Las Vegas.
According to the aviation-incident website The Aviation Herald, the aircraft registration number N193AN was carrying 50 passengers and eight crew when upon landing, the aircraft struck its tail on the runway surface. According to reports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the aircraft incurred serious damage and said that it was rating the incident as an accident.
During the days that followed, all flights that had been assigned to the aircraft were canceled. American Airlines moved the damaged Boeing 757 to Roswell, New Mexico, on March 25th, presumably for long-term parking. Roswell International Air Center (ROS) was chosen due to its dry climate and amount of available space. Currently, Roswell has 400 planes parked at its 4,000-acre facility but could easily double that figure depending on the size of the aircraft.
What is a tail strike?
A tail strike occurs when the tail of the aircraft strikes the ground – this can take place at either take-off or landing . Even though the tail of the aircraft can hit the ground while taking off, the vast majority of tail strikes occur during landings. Gusts of wind and crosswinds can play a part in tail strikes, but they are mostly put down to human error.
While a simple scraping of metal on the runways sounds like no big deal, tail strikes can cause damage to the bulkhead and lead to a catastrophic event in pressurized aircraft. Tail strikes can also be very expensive to repair. In fact, one airline told Boeing that repairs to one of its planes cost US$12 million when taking into account lost revenue.
Designed to be more efficient than the Boeing 727 that it was replacing, the 757 was susceptible to tail strikes in the early years prompting Boeing to recommend special training for 757 pilots.
American will retire its 757 fleet sooner than planned
With regards to American Airlines N193AN, we can assume that it has flown its last flight for the world’s largest airline after American announced that it would be retiring its 757 fleet in 2021.
Now with the coronavirus pandemic forcing airlines to ground aircraft, it would appear as if American Airlines may well retire its 757s sooner than what was previously planned. The Boeing 757 has served the carrier well with the oldest of its 757 aircraft having been in service for nearly 27 years, according to planespotters.net. During its time in service, American operated the 757 on transcontinental routes and international destinations from its hubs at New York and Miami.
The Airbus A321 will replace the 757
Replacing the Boeing 757 in the American Airlines fleet will be the Airbus A321, which has a similar capacity and range. Currently, American operates the Airbus A321 on its flagship route between New York and Los Angeles.
It is a shame that a tail strike should bring about the retirement of N193AN, but given the current crisis, it was probably inevitable that American would retire its 757 aircraft early.
Do you think American Airlines will retire the 757 earlier than planned? Let us know in the comments.