SEA07LA133
SEA07LA133

On May 19, 2007, at 0400 mountain daylight time, a Beech B-99, N950AA, was substantially damaged when the nose wheel landing gear collapsed during landing roll at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant in the airplane, was not injured. Alpine Aviation Inc., Provo, Utah, was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 135. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight, which had originated at 0100. The pilot was flying on an activated instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan, which had an intended destination of Kalispell, Montana.

The pilot said that he had departed from Billings, Montana, and had climbed to 12,000 feet. About 40 nautical miles northwest of Billings, he heard a "clunk" and the red unsafe light in the gear handle came on. He verified that all systems were functioning normally, and he cycled the landing gear up and down to see if that would solve the problem. The unsafe light remained illuminated. The pilot returned to Billings and circled for several hours to burn his fuel load down. He said that at one point he flew low over the runway so the company mechanic, with the aid of a light from an airport vehicle, could visually check the nose gear position. It was hanging out of the wheel well at approximately a 45-degree angle. Upon landing at Billings, the airplane settled to its nose during landing rollout.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed that the nose gear actuator mount bracket area was bent and wrinkled. The nose gear actuator shaft had fractured just above the clevis bolt, which attaches to the drag brace. The failed actuator had been installed on July 26, 2006. The Beech B-99 maintenance manual states that the hydraulic actuator needs to be overhauled or replaced every 10,000 hours; maintenance records indicate that this one had 231.4 hours on it at the time of the accident. Metallurgists from both the National Transportation Safety Board and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation examined the failed actuator. Both concluded that all of the fractures were overstress, and no preexisting fatigue signatures were evident.

The airframe had accumulated 34,613.2 hours of flying time at the time of the accident.

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