Malaysia Airlines Jet Damaged After Returning for Landing – Pitot Covers Allegedly Left On

A Malaysia Airlines A330 (MH124) took off from Brisbane, Australia bound for Kuala Lumpur apparently with the pitot covers still on. The airspeed indicators failed to function, but the aircraft took off anyway. The crew reported loss of airspeed. They remained in the air for about 40 minutes and dumped fuel before returning and making a high-speed emergency landing back at Brisbane.

Without accurate indication of speeds on landing, the aircraft made a hard landing (as described by passengers) and the nose wheel was damaged. After the landing the aircraft had to be towed to the gate due to the damage to the nose wheel.

Fuselage-mounted pitot tubes were covered while the aircraft was on the ground to prevent insects from entering them and mud wasps are a particular concern at that airport. The covers were allegedly not removed before the aircraft took off. Since the airspeed indicators were not functioning properly, the crew had no good reading of the speed for landing and did damage to the nose wheel. The ATBS is investigating.