On March 31, 2004, at 1705 central standard time, a Swearingen SA226-T, N636SP, sustained substantial damage during takeoff when the airplane veered off the right side of runway 30 (3,801 feet by 75 feet, concrete) at the Millard Airport (MLE), Omaha, Nebraska. The pilot was not injured. The 14 CFR Part 91 repositioning flight was departing from MLE with Council Bluffs, Iowa, as the destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan was filed.

The pilot reported that he did not have the aircraft serviced with fuel at MLE so the airplane was "relatively light weight." He taxied to runway 30 for takeoff. He reported that he "pushed the speed levers full forward and, while holding the brakes (with rudder pedals neutral), pushed the power levers up to approximately 80% torque and released brakes, using the nosewheel steering power lever button." He reported the airplane accelerated down the runway near centerline. He reported, "At approximately 50 knots, I released the nosewheel steering power lever button and the aircraft started to turn to the right." He reengaged the nosewheel steering power lever button and applied rudder, but the airplane continued to veer off the runway. He reported he initiated abort takeoff procedures, but the airplane was unable to stop on the concrete surface. The airplane struck a runway light and the nose gear collapsed in the soft dirt when it went off the runway. He reported that both propellers stopped turning and the airplane tipped up on its radome. He completed the engine shutdown procedures and exited the airplane.

A Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector conducted an on-site inspection of the accident. He reported that the airplane veered off the right side of the runway approximately 720 feet from the start of the takeoff roll, and that the nose gear collapsed almost immediately in the soft soil. He reported, "Both engines appeared to have full power at the time the aircraft departed the runway."

Tire skid marks about 50 feet in length were observed where the airplane veered off the runway. The left skid mark was measured at nine feet right of the runway centerline. The skid marks left the runway at about a 30 - 35 degree angle.

The nosewheel steering system could not be checked due to impact damage. The Pre-takeoff Checklist calls for a Steering and Alignment check prior to takeoff. The Steering and Alignment checks the operational status of the nosewheel steering system prior to takeoff, and the nose wheel steering should not be used if the airplane fails the Steering and Alignment check during the Pre-takeoff Checklist.

The procedure listed in Swearingen Metro SA226-T Airplane Flight Manual, page III-16, for "Nose Wheel Steering Malfunction" if the aircraft is equipped with a side control wheel system, states the following:

"If a malfunction (runaway) in the nose wheel steering mechanism occurs that cannot be controlled by the normal steering system, release the steering control wheel. Adequate steering then can be maintained by use of rudder, brakes, and/or differential power.

Normal pilot reaction to a runaway steering system is to oppose the malfunction with opposite steering. While this action will stop the runaway, it is more effective to release the steering control wheel and to maintain directional control with rudder, differential braking, and/or differential power.



3. Nose Wheel Steering Circuit Breaker........PULL."

The inspection of the airplane revealed that the propellers were not on the stop locks during takeoff. The inspection of the brakes, wheels, and tires revealed no anomalies that would prevent proper operation. No anomalies were found that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.

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