NTSB Identification: CHI02FA234.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 20, 2002 in Macomb, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N16319
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 airplane returned from a local flight with substantial damage resulting from a crack through its vertical stabilizer spar. The airplane was used throughout its service life as a rental/flight training airplane. The airplane and vertical stabilizer accumulated a total time of 13,810 hours. According to maintenance personnel, the crack was not present during the airplaneā€™s last annual inspection, which was performed 7 hours before the flight. The crack is located approximately 6 inches above the base of the vertical stabilizer and extends horizontally approximately 1 1/2 inches from the right side of the stabilizer into the 3 1/2 inch spar. The maintenance personnel had installed a doubler at the root of the rudder as a preventative measure against skin cracks. Examination of the fracture surfaces were consistent with overstress fractures.

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

The cracked vertical stabilizer and the unapproved maintenance modification to the rudder by company maintenance personnel.

Full narrative available

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