Pilot knowingly flies defective airplane

This August 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: Ryan Navion B. Injuries: None. Location: Fort Myers, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, during a previous flight he discovered that the elevator trim adjustment wheel was binding when it set to the full airplane nose-up position. He planned to have the plane inspected at the conclusion of that flight, but upon arriving at the destination, all of the facilities were closed for the evening.

The pilot picked up passengers and then departed for the return to his home airport. The flight was normal until he began to trim the airplane for the landing flare. The plane pitched up uncontrollably. The left wing hit the ground, resulting in substantial damage.

An examination of the wreckage revealed that the trim wheel was binding on the instrument panel when the trim was set to a nose-up position. When the trim wheel was removed from the trim system, the remainder of the mechanism was free to move in both the up and down directions.

Probable cause: The binding of the trim wheel on the instrument panel and the pilot’s improper decision to depart with a known mechanical deficiency.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10CA425

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