CHI01LA008
CHI01LA008

On October 11, 2000, about 1430 central daylight time, a Walton RV-6, N796W, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage on impact with terrain during a landing on runway 22 (2,497 feet X 75 feet, dry/asphalt) at Lake Elmo Airport (21D) near Saint Paul, Minnesota. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot was uninjured. The local flight originated from 21D at 1425.

The pilot stated, "... Went out to do a few landings and after rounding out and 3 ft. above runway, my right rudder pedal failed causing my airplane to yaw left, strike left wingtip and cartwheel approx. 3 times before coming to rest on its gear. I was able to open canopy and climb out."

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector preformed an on-scene examination of the accident. The right rudder pedal was found separated from its cross tube. The airplane's logbooks were reviewed. The airplane's condition inspection was performed on January 21, 2000. No entries indicating the compliance with Van's Aircraft, Inc.'s Service Bulletin (SB) 99-6-1 were found. The SB states, "Required Action: Immediately inspect the rudder pedal assembly.

If your pedal assemblies already have a gusset on the forward side of the rudder pedals/torque tube junction, no further action is necessary.

If your rudder pedals do not have the gusset:

- Inspect your pedals for any sign of failure. Although it is subtle, the forward side of the tube will fail first. Check with an inspection mirror for any signs of distortion (bulging or caving in) on the forward side of the torque tubes. Also, run your fingers along the joint to feel for any distortion -- many times it is easier to feel irregularities than to see them. The pilot's right rudder pedal is the most likely to fail, but please inspect all of them. Van's Aircraft, Inc. recommends a 10-hour inspection schedule on the rudder pedal torque tube; with an immediate inspection if a takeoff or landing results in high forces on the rudder pedals or if there is any "sponginess" noted in the rudder system. If you find signs of a failure, immediate replacement is required.

- Owners may elect to make a permanent repair and remove the requirement for repetitive inspections. This repair may be accomplished one of two ways:

1. Van's Aircraft, Inc. will make available, free of charge, a finger patch that may be welded on the pedals. The part number for eight patches and instructions is WD-655 FPKIT.

2. For those owners not in a big hurry, the pedals may be returned to Van's for modification. PLEASE include your name, builder's number, and shipping address, and mark the outside of the box with RMA-WD-655. We expect repairs to take between two and four weeks but it may take longer. If you remove the paint around the weld area (about 4" in all directions from the joint) before sending them in, it will speed the return of your pedals."

A kit manufacturer's representative stated, "I researched the method by which we distribute service bulletins and, with each bulletin, we do a direct mailing to each customer, publish the SB in the newsletter and place it on our web site. If we are notified of change of ownership, we mail to the new owner. In the case of 23066, the SB would have gone to [the builder]."

The airplane builder stated, "I understand that there was a Service Bulletin 99-6-1 issued by Van's A/C on 06/30/99. Supposedly it was issued to all RV owners that Van had on record. I did not receive such bulletin. Had I, I certainly would have forwarded it to [the current owner]."

The mechanic who performed the inspection on January 21, 2000, stated, "As the aircraft owner had no type specific inspection form we used an in-house checklist composed of items from various manufactures checklists and incorporating all the items from Part 43 Appendix D. In order to avoid this kind of problem I suggest the FAA or kit provider initiate an AD calling for inspections of the rudder tube welds or any other area of amateur built concern. I understand the FAA feels the manufacturer is responsible for this action (ie the kit builder). Safety should be the primary concern not bureaucratic posturing. FAR Part 39.11 clearly gives the administrator the power over prescribing inspections and limitations. Failing this, I suggest a clearing house or web site for all kit manufacturers listing any service bulletins, service difficulties, areas of concern and copies of inspection checklists. Perhaps through the EAA website. ... All the information you need may be out there but finding it is not a simple matter. Standardization between manufactures, kit providers and the government would go a long way in providing safety for all."

The internet was reviewed. Service Bulletin 99-6-1 was able to be located through the http://www.vansaircraft.com internet site.

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