Frozen wheel compromises landing

This March 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: Hazen, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot took off from an airport where there was snow, water, and slush on the taxiways. He landed at another airport for fuel and then departed for his destination. The approach and touchdown at the destination airport was normal but when the pilot applied the brakes, the plane veered to the left and the left main wheel went off the runway. The pilot was unable to get the left wheel back on the runway and was unable to stop the 172. As the airplane slowed, the left wheel entered a snowbank, and the airplane nosed over. The pilot said that the plane acted like the right brake did not operate properly and suspected it may have frozen since his departure was from an airport with the snow, water, and slush. The airplane was subsequently examined and no anomalies with the braking system were detected.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control of the airplane during the landing roll.

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  1. Pete Schoeninger says

    Does anybody know if the airplane had wheel pants?. I’ve seen instances where slush/slop will pack up in a wheel pant, and then freeze when U climb into colder air, and cause a major problem on landing. For that reason I always removed wheel pants for winter operations.

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