NTSB Identification: SEA02FA064.
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Accident occurred Friday, April 05, 2002 in Red Lodge, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/18/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 182E, registration: N3184Y
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot executed a normal 20-degree flap landing in calm wind conditions to the 4,000 foot long runway. During the rollout the nose wheel of the Cessna 182E separated and the aircraft veered left off the runway. Post-crash metallurgical examination of the nose gear fork fracture surface revealed thumbnail features typical of fatigue cracking that emanated from five different fracture planes. The fatigue regions were very smooth, contained crack arrest positions, and were darkly discolored. The exterior surface of the fork showed no evidence of corrosion pitting or mechanical damage adjacent to the fatigue regions.

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

Long term fatigue of the nose landing gear strut fork initiated by side loading which resulted in the separation of the fork from the strut and the consequent collapse of the nose gear. A contributing factor was the ditch the aircraft traversed during the ground roll.

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