NTSB Identification: MIA02LA138.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, July 23, 2002 in Trenton, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2003
Aircraft: Maule MXT-7-180A, registration: N10550
Injuries: 1 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.

According to the pilot, he had to clear a ridgeline on his approach path to a 2,000 foot grass strip, necessitating a short field approach that was steep, using idle power. When he rapidly applied power in the flare, the engine hesitated, and the touchdown was firm. The left main wheel fractured at the weld joint between the axle and the hub spacer , causing the wheel to separate, the left landing strut to dig into the sod, and the aircraft to ground loop. The ground loop resulted in a collapsed nose gear strut and a propeller strike. Postcrash examination of the engine revealed metal shavings contamination in the gascolator. Postcrash run of the engine revealed an idle rpm of less than 500 rpm. The normal idle rpm range should be 600 to 800 rpm. The left main wheel/axle was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for analysis of the fracture. The examination showed the axle to spacer weld had only achieved about 30 percent fusion of the surface at the end of the axle. The remaining fracture surface was consistent with overstress separation.

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

The failure of the pilot to clear the engine during a prolonged approach at idle power resulting in the engine hesitating during application of power to arrest the descent for landing touchdown resulting in a hard landing and separation of the left main landing gear wheel. Contributing to the accident was incomplete fusion of the weld joint between the left main landing gear axle and wheel spacer and the lower than normal idle setting of the engine.

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