NTSB Identification: DFW06LA094.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, April 04, 2006 in Coushatta, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/27/2007
Aircraft: Aviation Specialties Unlimited Challenger II, registration: N260HP
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.

The commercial pilot departed the airfield for a local aerobatic flight. While performing aerobatic maneuvers, the airplane experienced a failure of the elevator control system. The 18,971-hour pilot was able to recover and maneuver the airplane to a safe altitude over an uninhabited area. Once over the safe area, the pilot elected to exit the airplane and deploy his emergency parachute. The airplane was destroyed upon impact with the ground. The elevator's push-pull tube assembly was located in the wreckage with a broken rod-end bearing. The elevator push-pull tube is fitted with two rod-end bearings, one in each end of the tube. The first rod-end bearing was unbroken, but slightly bent to one side. The unbroken rod-end bearing had the markings of FAFNIR on the side of the bearing retainer, and 2P on the side of the shank, at the base of the outer race or banjo. The second (failed) rod-end bearing's outer race was fractured in two places, leaving just the threaded shank and approximately the bottom one-third of the outer race. The top section of the failed bearing and associated parts were not located and therefore, no identification marks could be associated with the outer race. Nor were there any identification markings on the hollow shank. During load testing of similar rod-end bearings, three bearings failed at 870 pounds or less. These bearings had the markings of FEDERAL RE3ML6-2N MADE IN THE USA, on the side of the bearing retainer. Also, rod-end bearings identified as "FEDERAL" all had no additional identification marks on a hollow shaft. Rod-end bearings identified as FAFNIR all had solid shafts, and the markings of "2P" on the shank near the base of the banjo head. FAFNIR bearings used in the test all failed above 3,200 pounds. The ultimate (minimum) load requirement for the rod-end bearings is 1,500 pounds.

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

The loss of control due to premature failure of the elevator's push-pull tube rod-end bearing.

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