Airbus A321-211, EC-HUI
The aircraft, which was destined for Madrid, was being pushed back from stand 522 at Heathrow Airport when the incident occurred. The Commander reported that the pushback procedure proceeded normally initially and the flight crew were cleared by the ground crew for engine start.
The aircraft’s nosewheel steering mechanism, which is hydraulically powered, is normally inhibited during the pushback procedure to allow the pushback vehicle to manoeuvre the aircraft without damaging the steering system. This is achieved by action on a towing control lever on the nose landing gear, which is operated by the pushback ground crew. When the control lever is in the towing position, a NW STRG DISC message appears on the flight crew’s display.
The commander reported that the towing control lever was not correctly set and that, as the right hand engine was started, the nose wheel steering system became pressurised and was damaged as a result. The ground crew stopped the pushback procedure immediately. After explaining the situation to the flight crew, the aircraft was towed back on to stand; it was subsequently inspected and removed from service pending maintenance action.
Published 10 December 2014