Oops: JetBlue Airbus A321 Tips On Tail At JFK


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Here’s something that’s pretty rare, but not unheard of…

JetBlue A321 tips backwards after arriving in New York

This incident happened on Sunday, October 22, 2023, and involves a seven-year-old JetBlue Airbus A321 with the registration code N959JB. The aircraft had just arrived from Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI), having operated flight B6662. The plane was at the gate, and passengers and cargo were in the process of being removed, when the aircraft tipped on its tail.

You can see the video of the incident for yourself below…

Fortunately there aren’t any reported injuries, because as you’d expect, this could pose a risk to both the passengers and crew on the plane, as well as ground staff. The aircraft has been taken out of service, though, and it remains to be seen for how long it won’t fly (odds are that the damage wasn’t too bad, but at a minimum, a close inspection is needed).

How can planes “tip” backwards like this?

It’s pretty rare to see incidents like this occur, which is why something like this makes headlines. What could cause a plane to tip backwards, as seen here? While I’m sure an investigation will be performed, presumably this comes down to weight and balance.

While with normal procedures the plane wouldn’t tip, just enough went wrong that it became an issue:

  • Luggage is seemingly being removed through the forward cargo door, so maybe a lot of weight had already been removed there, while there was a significant amount of cargo in the rear
  • Passengers disembark front to back, so perhaps passengers weren’t moving forward that quickly

This was probably the perfect storm in terms of having too much cargo and passenger weight in the back of the aircraft, while not having enough cargo and passenger weight in the front of the aircraft.

Among mainline jets, the 737-900 is generally considered to be most at risk of tipping backwards on its tail, which is why many airlines have a tail stand that they use for the aircraft. Essentially this is a stand placed near the back of the aircraft that prevents tipping.

While the A321 is the longest variant of the Airbus A320-family of aircraft, the plane historically hasn’t been as prone to tipping as the 737-900.

Bottom line

A JetBlue Airbus A321 had a rough Sunday night, as it tipped on its tail after landing from Barbados. One assumes that this came down to a weight and balance issue, and there not being enough weight in front of the aircraft, and there being too much weight in the back of the aircraft.

This is rare, but not unheard of. However, incidents like this are most common with the 737-900, and not the A321.

What do you make of this JetBlue Airbus A321 incident at JFK?

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