NTSB Identification: ERA11LA264
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 22, 2011 in Meriden, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-161, registration: N2838D
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 student pilot entered the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern at the airport. While on the final leg of the traffic pattern, the airplane encountered vertical wind shear and landed hard on the runway. After the impact, the right main landing gear of the airplane collapsed, and the pilot taxied off the right side of the runway, coming to rest perpendicular to the runway. The most recent annual inspection was performed 3 months before the accident, and at that time the airplane had accumulated 13,962.8 hours of total time in service. The airplane was involved in another accident 2 months earlier that involved a hard landing. Thirteen days before the accident, the most recent maintenance was completed on the airplane that involved an inspection of the main landing gear. The airplane was found to be in airworthy condition, was signed off on that date, and at that time had 14,055.3 hours of total time in service. Examination of the inboard torque link lug of the right main landing gear revealed that it failed as a result of progressive fatigue cracking. The lugs are the subject of a Piper service bulletin recommending repetitive 100-hour recurrent inspections for cracking in the lugs. Although the complete loading history of the gear is unknown, it is likely that detectable indications of metal fatigue would have been present for more than 100 flight hours. There was no documentation in the airplane’s maintenance records that indicated that the factory service bulletin had been performed.

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

Maintenance personnel's inadequate inspection of the main landing gear, which resulted in a failure of the right main landing gear’s inboard torque link lug due to a fatigue fracture. Contributing to the accident was owner's lack of compliance with a factory service bulletin addressing landing gear inspections.

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