This June 2009 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: Cirrus Design SR22. Injuries: None. Location: Greenville, S.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The accident flight was the first flight after the airplane had undergone maintenance. The pilot didn’t notice any problems during the preflight inspection, engine start, taxi, run-up or takeoff, but as the airplane became airborne, he noticed that the elevator control had more play in it than normal so he headed to an area west of the airport and attempted to troubleshoot the issue. He did not detect the problem again so he flew back to the airport. When the airplane was on short final, he reduced the throttle to idle power for landing.
The Cirrus was about 25 feet above the ground when the nose pitched down. The pilot pulled on the control yoke to flare, but the elevator control was stuck and the airplane hit nose first.
The airplane bounced back up into the air. The jolt of the touchdown seemed to free the elevator control and the pilot was able to complete a normal landing. As he taxied from the runway, he was able to duplicate the control jam, he noted that the pitch trim cartridge control rod felt “gritty.”
When a mechanic removed pitch trim cartridge and replaced it, the gritty sensation disappeared. It was noted that no work was performed on the pitch trim cartridge during the recent maintenance inspection. Further examination of the airplane’s pitch trim cartridge revealed some corrosion and black grease residue present but there was no conclusive evidence found to support a flight control jam.
During the investigation, it was discovered that another owner reported similar issues pertaining to trim cartridge sticking involving five Cirrus airplanes. Those events occurred shortly after the new airplanes left the factory. Subsequent interviews with mechanics and an FAA inspector, along with further information from the second owner, revealed that one airplane had an elevator pitch trim cartridge sticking due to a lack of lubrication. Another airplane had a roll trim cartridge removed and replaced at the customer’s request, in an effort to troubleshoot a wing-rocking problem. The other three airplanes were noted to have trim cartridge for roll, yaw, and or pitch sticking possibly due to an aileron-rudder interconnect issue, cartridge misalignment, and or debris particles becoming temporarily stuck in the cartridge.
Probable cause: A pitch control malfunction for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification: ERA09IA315.