Aerolineas Argentinas 737-8HX, LV-FUA (c/n 40548/4995), taxis at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 07Aug16. (Phil Perry Photo)
The above-pictured aircraft was operating Aerolineas Argentinas flight AR1672 from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Bariloche (BRC) on 13Feb17 when on final approach to BRC's runway 29 at 12:51pm local time, the crew initiated a go-around but the tail struck the runway reportedly BEFORE its wheels touched down, resulting in the tail taking the full force of the impact. This event was unlike the ordinary tail strikes which take place on takeoff due to an excessive rotation and resulting nose-up attitude that cause the tail to come into contact with the ground but usually without much force resulting in more of a scraping effect rather than an impact, as such.
LV-FUA completed its go-around and landed normally back at BRC twelve minutes later without further incident. Its return flight to Aeroparque was cancelled and the aircraft taken out of service and ferried back to Buenos Aires on 03Mar17, presumably Ezeiza (EZE) where Aerolineas has heavy maintenance facilities, where LV-FUA was inspected with some repairs made and put back into service in late April.
The event was characterized as a "Serious Incident" by the JIAAC Argentine national aviation investigation agency. The damage appears to have been potentially serious enough to lead me (admittedly not an engineer or maintenance expert) to wonder if inspection of the aircraft would have required expertise on fundamental fuselage construction and engineering that might only be available at the manufacturer level, in this case the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company.
One apparently knowledgeable reader of Aviation Herald commented in the publication shortly after the incident on 16Feb17:
"The repair will be a couple of weeks maybe months, partially re-skinning and replacing lower sections of a few frames. Aircraft needs to be stress jacked and kept in alignment so the logistics are quite elaborate. The entire fuselage will have to be inspected, including the aft pressure bulkhead as the impact could have "whipped" through other parts of the fuselage. 737 Nose gear shimmy events even require aft pressure bulkhead inspections."
Is that kind of heavy engineering and basic construction expertise available at airlines, who are thoroughly trained on aircraft maintenance but presumably would not have the same depth of knowledge as those who actually built the aircraft ?