Corrosion leads to crack up

This October 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 Saratoga. Injuries: None. Location: Waterloo, Iowa. Aircraft damage: None.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to take off and noticed that the stabilator did not respond to control inputs so he aborted the takeoff. There was not sufficient runway remaining to bring the airplane to a full stop and it went off the runway.

The post-accident examination revealed that a stabilator control cable had failed at a turnbuckle fitting as a result of stress corrosion cracking. The airplane was within the maintenance inspection requirements at the time of the accident, with the most recent annual inspection completed about one year before the accident. The airplane service manual included a special control cable fitting inspection for airplanes in service 15 years or more. According to the service manual, any evidence of corrosion or cracking was cause for replacement.

Probable cause: The separation of a stabilator control cable turnbuckle due to stress corrosion cracking, which resulted in a loss of airplane control during takeoff.

For more information: NTSB Identification: CEN11LA048

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