A JetBlue plane that had just arrived at New York JFK Airport on Sunday night ended up tipping backwards onto its tail in an embarrassing and potentially dangerous accident.
The seven-year-old Airbus A321 had just arrived from Bridgetown, Barbados, following a four-hour flight and was parked at the gate with the jetbridge attached to the front left-hand door when the plane unexpectedly tipped backwards.
Images shared on social media by aviation insider @XJonNYC on X showed the aircraft sitting uncomfortably on its tail at a 25-degree angle with its front landing gear in the air.
At nearly 45 metres long, the Airbus A321 is the longest model in the A320 series aircraft family, and that can make the aircraft susceptible to tipping accidents like this if weight and balance rules aren’t properly observed by flight crew and ground staff.
Although rare, aircraft tipping incidents aren’t unheard of, and there are a few reasons why the JetBlue plane may have tipped on its tail on Sunday evening.
One video of the aircraft shared on social media shows the front cargo hold door open, which could suggest that ground handlers removed freight from the front of the aircraft while there were lots of passengers still at the back of the plane.
This could have resulted in the center of gravity shifting to the back of the aircraft and resulting in the tail tip. Normally, the pilots are ground staff are alerted by an onboard monitoring system that the centre of gravity is at risk of shifting too far and will instruct passengers to remain seated until enough cargo has been removed from the belly hold.
Tail-tipping accidents can have the potential to injure passengers and ground staff, although there haven’t been any reports of injuries following Sunday night’s accident.
In a statement, a spokesperson for JetBlue explained: “On Sunday, October 22, JetBlue flight 662 landed as scheduled at New York’s JFK Airport from Bridgetown, Barbados.”
“Once at the gate, due to a shift in weight and balance during deplaning, the tail of the aircraft tipped backward causing the nose of the aircraft to lift up and eventually return back down. No injuries were reported.”
The statement continued: “Safety is JetBlue’s first priority; we are reviewing this incident, and the aircraft has been taken out of service for inspection.”