This April 2010 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: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: None. Location: Three Rivers, Mich. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing touch and go landings with his flight instructor. During a touch down, the airplane veered to the left. The flight instructor attempted to correct to the right.
The airplane continued to veer to the left, going off the runway.
Examination of the airplane revealed that the left aft spar was bent and fractured, the left main landing gear separated, and the main landing landing gear torque link was fractured.
An NTSB Materials Laboratory examination of the torque link revealed the fracture face contained crack arrest marks typical of fatigue cracking that emanated from multiple origins at the surface of the wall on both sides of the link. The fatigue cracks were the result of lateral stress produced during landing and taxi operations.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inability to maintain directional control during landing due to the failure of the left main landing gear torque link as a result of fatigue.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: CEN10LA210.
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