On January 24, 1997, at 1521 eastern standard time, a Cessna 650 "Citation III", N777LF, was substantially damaged when the left main gear collapsed after landing at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The certificated airline transport pilot, copilot, and the sole passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the corporate passenger flight that originated in Washington, D.C, about 1443. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, the flight departed AVP, and flew to the Washington-National Airport (DCA) for a passenger pick-up. After 15 minutes on the ground at DCA, they then departed for the return trip to AVP. When they arrived at AVP, they conducted the ILS approach to runway 04. The pilot stated that during the approach he received an update on the current winds, which were reported to be from 120 degrees at 18 knots, gusting to 25 knots. He also stated that he used a 20 degree wind correction to stay on the ILS localizer course. On final approach to runway 04, the pilot selected full flaps and confirmed the landing gear was down with three green indicator lights. On short final, the pilot aligned the airplane with the runway, and touched down in the first 1,000 feet of the runway.

The pilot stated that the right main gear touched down first, followed by the left. He also stated, "The aircraft ballooned or floated and retouched again at a point 300 to 400 feet further down the runway. Both touchdowns were smooth with the aircraft aligned with the centerline."

The pilot further stated:

"After rolling down the runway more than 500 feet in the vicinity of the 'C' taxiway intersection, the right wing suddenly appeared to be rising...At the same time the aircraft started to veer left. Full right rudder and brake were applied in order to keep the aircraft near the center of the runway...The aircraft came to stop 20 feet left of the runway centerline...After evacuating the aircraft...observed the left main landing gear folded..."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration Inspector's report, when the airplane was lifted from the runway, the left gear was pushed down and heard to lock in position. The report also stated that the landing gear actuator rod end was found broken off, with some small pieces of metal in the tires. The FAA Inspector tagged the landing gear and side brace actuators for tear down analysis.

The components were examined on April 11, 1997, at the Teijin Seiki America (TSA) facility, Redmond, Washington. Present during the examination was a representative of the Cessna Aircraft Company and an Inspector from the FAA's Seattle Flight Standard District Office. The FAA Inspector reviewed and concurred with the final TSA tear down report. The initial TSA report stated in the history section that "The NTSB concluded that pilot error was the cause of the incident." This was corrected in a follow up letter, that the NTSB had not determined the probable cause of the accident, as of the date of the examination.

A review of the tear down report did not reveal a preimpact failure of any components. The report did state, "...Review of the past history of both Actuators indicated no previous maintenance activity had been recorded on the Actuators..."

Regarding the side-brace actuator the report stated, " It appears likely the side-brace Actuator was locked when the aircraft initially bounced, or the gear would have collapsed on landing..."

Regarding the main landing gear actuator the report stated:

"...The end of the Piston was severed at the rod end attachment point and the Piston was bent at an angle of approximately 20 degrees...This most likely occurred due to the excessive side loading on the extended Piston when the aircraft bounced on landing..."

The winds reported by the AVP control tower at the time of the accident were from 120 degrees at 25 knots.

According to the Cessna Pilot's Operating Handbook, the maximum demonstrated crosswind component for landing was 25 knots.

In the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot indicated that his total flight experience was about 7,120 hours. He also indicated that he had 52 hours in make and model, of which 20 hours was in the preceding 90 days, and 3 hours was in the preceding 30 days. He had no other Cessna Citation experience.

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