NTSB Identification: LAX97LA250.
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Accident occurred Monday, July 21, 1997 in ELKO, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/04/1998
Aircraft: de Havilland DHC-6-300, registration: N776BF
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Before departing from Reno the aircraft had been ramp-checked by the FAA with no discrepancies noted. The private pilot was responsible for landing, while the airline transport pilot was responsible for completing the before landing checklist, which included checking the position of the nose wheel steering tiller. Upon touchdown, the aircraft veered left of the centerline. The private pilot attempted to brake with right rudder input. The aircraft slowed down but continued to veer to the left. The propellers were put into beta, but the aircraft continued to veer off the left side of the runway, struck a light, and collapsed the nose gear. After repairs, the airline transport pilot ferried the aircraft to an airport in California, with no discrepancies noted. A report submitted by the owner of the aircraft indicates nose gear difficulties dating back to August 1992. The report further stated that if the actuator cables were improperly tensioned the tiller could visually be indicating a horizontal position without the nose wheel being centered. Witnesses reported that upon landing they saw a cloud of smoke emanating from the nose gear. Signature marks found at the initial point of touchdown on the runway are consistent with the nose gear not being in the centered position. The aircraft traveled approximately 200 to 300 feet and then was left of centerline. No discrepancies were noted with the aircraft's braking system. Examination of the nose gear steering cables did reveal that the cables were significantly under tensioned.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of maintenance personnel to correctly diagnose and correct a reoccurring nose gear steering problem, and the improperly tensioned nose wheel steering actuator cables which provided the pilot with an erroneous cockpit indication that the nose gear was centered when it was cocked.

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