This August 2008 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 Tri-Pacer. Injuries: None. Location: Jeannette, Pa. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land. He aligned the airplane with the centerline and applied pressure on the manual brake, however, there was no response. He looked down towards the firewall, and observed the brake cable had separated. He made “S” turns in an attempt to slow down and stop. The airplane touched down and was about 50 yards from the end of the runway, but was not slowing down enough. The pilot applied right rudder to turn the airplane off the right side of the runway. The airplane went off the runway and the nose wheel collapsed.
Examination of the brake lever cable revealed that it failed due to fatigue. The last annual inspection was completed 36 days before the accident. The A&P who performed the inspection stated that he also installed a brake booster on the airplane during the inspection. The mechanic stated he did not totally remove the cable from the airplane during his examination, however he did check the brake cable with a cloth and there were no snags from broken wires. The FAA advisory circular that pertains to the inspection of the brake cables states, “in addition to passing a cloth over the area to check on wire snags that a very careful visual inspection must be made since a broken wire will not always protrude or stick out, but may lie in the strand and remain in the position of the helix as it was manufactured. Broken wires of this type may show up as a hairline crack in the wire. If a broken wire of this type is suspected, further inspection with a magnifying glass of 7 power or greater, is recommended.”
Probable cause: Failure of the brakes due to inadequate inspection of the brake cable by maintenance personnel.
For more information: NTSB.gov