NTSB Identification: CEN11LA459
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 02, 2011 in Battle Creek, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/05/2013
Aircraft: WINGTIP TO WINGTIP, LLC PANZL S-330, registration: N330JK
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 entire left aileron separated from the airplane as the pilot was performing an aerobatic aileron-roll maneuver during an airshow aerobatic demonstration flight. The pilot was able to recover into level flight and make an uneventful landing. The pilot stated that his preflight inspection before the accident flight did not reveal any mechanical issues with the airplane, including loose jam nuts or any other aileron anomalies. However, the pilot reported that his aviation mechanic had to retighten the jam nut for the center aileron hinge rod-end after it had been found loose on several occasions before the accident flight.

A postaccident examination revealed that the center aileron hinge had failed in the shank region of the rod end due to reverse bending fatigue. No material issues were identified with the center aileron rod end, which met the part specifications. A design analysis confirmed that the aileron rod ends were adequate for the limit loads on the structure but were inadequate for fatigue tolerance. The stress levels in the rod end shank were at or above the endurance limit for the specified rod end material, regardless of a loose or tight jam nut. However, a loose jam nut further increased the stress in the rod end about 28 percent and would have reduced the cycles to a fatigue failure. Following the accident, the airplane manufacturer redesigned the aileron bracket assemblies by increasing the diameter of the rod end shank and reducing the moment arm between the bearing and the aileron bracket. The redesign yielded a total stress reduction of about 83 percent in the rod end, which was significantly below the endurance limit for the specified material.


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

The inadequate aileron hinge design, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the left aileron following a fatigue failure of the center hinge rod-end.

Full narrative available

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