NTSB Identification: DCA08IA019
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Chautauqua Airlines (D.B.A. Delta Connection)
Incident occurred Monday, December 17, 2007 in Jamaica, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/27/2011
Aircraft: EMBRAER 145, registration: N272SK
Injuries: 53 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.

Prior to the incident flight, the Embraer EMB-145 was parked overnight with its tail pointed into the wind. During this time period, the winds were reported to be very high (on the order of 30-40 kts). The aircraft was equipped with a mechanical gust lock system designed to immobilize the forward torque tube of the elevator control system when the system is engaged. During takeoff, the flightcrew performed an emergency high-speed aborted takeoff because the captain felt a control anomaly during rotation. An inspection of the elevator control system components revealed that both left and right elevator control rods had fractured completely, rendering the elevator system inoperable. The elevator control rods fractured when the elevator surfaces repeatedly moved off the rear elevator stops due to wind gusts.

An airworthiness directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (AD 2005-26-15) was already in place at the time of this incident, which mandated replacement of the mechanical gust lock system on the Embraer 145 airplane with a more effective electromechanical gust lock system and required some repetitive inspections be performed until such time as the electromechanical system was installed. However, based on the findings in this incident, the FAA determined that the interim inspections mandated by AD 2005-26-15 were not adequate to detect the discrepancies exhibited in this event. As a result, the FAA subsequently issued a new airworthiness directive (AD 2008-03-03) to improve the interim inspections required until terminating action was taken by operators and also superceded AD 2005-26-15 with AD 2008-10-08 to shorten the compliance time for installation of the electromechanical gust lock system.

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

the failure of the elevator control rods due to exposure to high winds while the aircraft was parked overnight.

Contributing to this incident was the failure of the existing airworthiness directive to adequately detect this discrepancy given the known deficiency with the mechanical gust lock design.

Full narrative available

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