Brake failure for Piper

Aircraft: Piper Super Cub. Injuries: None. Location: Del Norte, Colo. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who had recently acquired the Super Cub, was receiving instruction from a CFI to get more familiar with the tailwheel airplane.

The airplane was equipped with an STC’d non-standard brake system. The CFI stated that when he had ferried the airplane, he noted that the brake system was extremely sensitive.

The CFI told the pilot early in his instruction that the use of the brakes should be avoided in normal operations due to their sensitivity.

After practicing some standard flight maneuvers at altitude, the pair returned to the airport to practice full stop landings and takeoffs. The CFI demonstrated the first landing. The pilot performed the next four landings and takeoffs with the CFI monitoring the controls and providing assistance when necessary.

On the fifth landing, the pilot made a three-point touchdown. During the landing roll, the plane suddenly swerved to the right. The pilot applied full left corrective rudder and the CFI applied the left brake, but the brake was ineffective. The CFI applied right brake to slow the airplane’s pending departure off the runway. The airplane nosed over and came to rest in a snow bank next to the runway.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of directional control during the landing roll, which resulted in a runway excursion. Contributing to the accident were the sensitivity of the brake system and the CFI’s delayed remedial action.

NTSB Identification: CEN12CA132 

This January 2012 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.


  1. says

    This is why I stick with my old (some would say ancient) expandatube brakes (Hayes), they may be older than WWII but they well never flip you over and are actually fairly even braking and have lasted forever. They are just enough brake to hold the airplane during a run up. God help you if you let your airplane set to long and don’t top off the old Scott brake reservoirs you get to find out what it is like to land without brakes. I have heard that a lot of the guy who go to the Cleveland brakes on the cubs are taking a little of that oil out of the reservoir to desensitize the brakes, the first few inches of travel does almost nothing due to the air in the system compressing.

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