NTSB Identification: IAD00IA026.
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Scheduled 14 CFR (D.B.A. US AIRWAYS EXPRESS )
Incident occurred Sunday, March 12, 2000 in BALTIMORE, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/18/2001
Aircraft: Boeing - Canada (de Havilland) DHC-8-102, registration: N838EX
Injuries: 32 Uninjured.

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

During the flight, the airplane required full nose-down trim and forward pressure on the yoke to maintain level flight. As a result, a logbook entry was made, and inspection of the airplane revealed damage due to contact between the elevator and rudder. Examination of the elevator gust lock mechanism revealed that only three of four elevator stop bumpers were installed. The upper right bumper was missing, but the mount bolt was still in place. The upper left bumper was cracked, chipped, crazed, and displayed a longitudinal crack that ran its entire length. FDR data showed that when the airplane taxied onto the departure runway for the previous flight, the gust lock was released, and rapid deflection of the elevator control surfaces and the control yoke was noted. At the point where the control yoke returned to its nominal position, the LH and RH elevator graph lines were approximately 4 degrees apart. These lines remained separated by approximately 4 degrees throughout the remainder of the flight. Examination of prior flights revealed the elevator control surface graph lines were superimposed in all modes of flight. Winds at the departure airport were from 300 degrees at 22 knots, gusting to 27 knots. A product safety representative for the airplane manufacturer 'guaranteed' the airplane would have been undamaged during the rapid elevator deflection, had the elevator stop bumpers been installed.

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

the missing elevator stop bumper that resulted in elevator over-travel and damage to the elevator. A factor in the incident was the abrupt release of the elevator control lock in windy conditions.

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