SINGAPORE — In May 2022, a Singapore Airlines (SIA) aircraft departing Nepal for Singapore suffered damage when its tail struck the runway during take-off, according to an investigation by the Transport Ministry's Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB). 

The incident resulted from the pilot over-tilting the plane, possibly combined with a tailwind. The Boeing 737-800 had took off from Kathmandu International Airport, and a cabin crew member in the back of the plane heard a thud and scraping sound just before take-off. The monitoring pilot also felt a light thud but noticed no engine anomalies.

After taking off and suspecting a tail strike, the pilot continued flying to reach the minimum safe altitude before descending and diverting to Kolkata, India. As a precaution, the monitoring pilot deployed passenger oxygen masks. No injuries were reported among the eight crew members and 165 passengers on board. Inspections in Kolkata revealed that the aircraft's tail skid assembly had touched the runway, but there was no damage to the rear fuselage.

The TSIB report noted that the flight crew could have checked for a tail strike at 10,500 ft while climbing to the minimum safe altitude. However, the report acknowledged that a tail strike in Kathmandu, at 4,400 ft elevation, would be particularly challenging due to the unique operational environment. The investigation also found that the aircraft lacked a tail strike warning indication system. TSIB recommended Boeing consider making such a warning system a standard feature on flight decks.

Additionally, the report highlighted that the monitoring pilot had deployed oxygen masks without informing the pilot flying, which TSIB suggested could impact flight crew communication and situational management. TSIB recommended that SIA re-emphasize proper aircraft control techniques during take-off to prevent tail strikes and provide targeted advice and training for high-elevation airports with surrounding high terrain, such as Kathmandu. SIA has reportedly incorporated lessons learned from the incident in their training programs and reaffirmed its commitment to passenger and crew safety.