United 737-900 Suffers Tail Strike On Landing In Denver

A United Airlines Boeing 737 has reportedly suffered a tail strike upon landing at Denver airport. The 737-900 was operating flight UA-401 from Reno on the 9th June when it landed heavily, striking its tail on the runway. All passengers are said to have disembarked safely.

United 737-900
A United 737-900 suffered a tail strike on landing. Photo: United

What happened?

United Airlines flight UA-401 departed Reno as planned on the 9th June, just ten minutes later than scheduled. Despite a slightly later departure, the flight made up time during the 1,294 km journey. Estimated to land at 16:08, the Boeing 737-900, registered N75436 was on approach a good 15 minutes earlier than planned.

UA-401
The flight path of UA-401. Image: FlightRadar24

According to the Aviation Herald, it was during landing at Denver that the incident occurred. Upon landing, the aircraft struck the runway surface with its tail. Despite the tail strike, the jet continued to land and rolled out without further incident. It taxied to the apron safely where all passengers disembarked.

A post flight inspection confirmed some damage to the tail of the United Airlines aircraft. The strike was reported to the control tower. According to FlightRadar24, the Boeing 737-900 is still on the ground in Denver, presumably undergoing repairs to the damaged tail.

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United
Denver is one of the busiest hubs for United. Photo: United

Passengers report a double strike

One of the passengers on the aircraft reported that the plane ‘slammed into the runway twice’. They say that flight crew were ‘visually shaken’ and that pilots did not attempt to reassure or apologize to passengers on board.

Simple Flying reached out to United Airlines for comment, who provided us with the following statement:

“On June 9 United 409 from Reno, Nevada to Denver landed safely after an incident upon landing. There were no reports of injuries and the aircraft taxied to a gate. The aircraft has been removed from service for repairs.”

Are tail strikes common?

Tail strikes are not common in aviation at all. In the past, particular models such as the MD 81 were prone to tail strikes, but since then the problem has all but been designed out of modern jets. Factors such as weather can play a part, with wind shear sometimes increasing the risk of the tail coming into contact with the runway.

Air Astana B767 tail strike
An Air Astana Boeing 767 suffers a tail strike on takeoff. Photo: Wikimedia

According to Boeing’s website, flight crew experience with the model of aircraft flown is a significant factor in tail strikes occurring. They say that,

“While tail strike may occur to pilots with abundant flight time in a model, most occur to pilots who are transitioning from one airplane model to another and have fewer than 100 hours of flight time in the new model. Incidents are greatest among pilots during their first heavy-weight operations in the new model, especially when the weather is marginal.”

Only a handful of tail strikes on landing have been reported, with as many occurring on takeoff as they do on landing. In January this year, an SAS Boeing 737-800 suffered a tail scrape on takeoff at Alesund, and in July last year, Flybondi experienced a tail strike on departure at Iguazu. Last year a TUI Belgium 737 struck the runway on landing at Marrakech in May, and a Swift 737 had a tail strike on landing in Heraklion in June.

Have you ever been on an aircraft which has suffered a tail strike? Let us know in the comments.

7 comments
  1. 737-900’s are prone to tailstrikes due, in part to their stretched length. They have special tail skids to minimize damage from a strike.

  2. Not at all surprised that it was a 739, considering the stretched fuselage and really short gear. Seems to me that tail strikes would be a particular risk for the 739, and present a challenge to pilots to a degree that other types might not. Yet another reason why it seems ridiculous (from a design perspective) that Boeing has continued to stretch and mod the 737 as much as it has.

    1. Given the reported “double bounce” landing, it would appear to be an excessively hard landing vs some sort of excess flare.

  3. I thought the 777s are the ones prone to tailstrikes due to their length…..737 is that short but all incidents above are all on the 737 family….

    1. -900’s are the longest of the family – 9′ longer than a -800 at 138 feet. I think the article only talked about 737 family. There are plenty of Airbus 3XX as well as well as other Boeing types.

      But no where nears as many as the ube-stretched MD-80/DC-9 family.

    2. Yes, only because the article was about a 737 suffering a tailstrike. Actually, aside of older aircraft like the McDonnell Douglas, the worst one for tail strikes was the 767… used to happen to Delta a lot. But the 737s have their fair share of incidents too.

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