DEN08LA008
DEN08LA008

On October 10, 2007, approximately 1030 mountain daylight time, a Flight Design GMBH CTSW, N245CT, registered to the pilot, was substantially damaged when it landed hard and nosed over at Afton (AFO), Wyoming. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The instructional flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and flight instructor both sustained minor injuries. The local flight originated at AFO approximately 0930.

According to the pilot's accident report, he flew over the airport and noted the wind sock, segmented circle, and wind-T were indicating a calm wind from the north. He made his approach to runway 34 using 30 degrees of flaps and maintained 45 knots using elevator control but did not trim for this speed. The pilot sensed he was slightly low, so he increased power until he saw both VASI (visual approach slope indicator) bars turn white. He then reduced power to idle. The airplane bounced but "not hard enough to have a wheel fall off." The pilot said he was going straight down the runway in "a few knots of wind." When the airplane touched down again, "the stub of the right main gear dug into the runway" and caused the airplane to veer to the right and off the runway. The right wing struck the ground and the airplane nosed over. The pilot said he thought he had been in control, but in retrospect may have been "behind" the airplane. He also said that "the amount or lack of. . .metal (on the landing gear indicated it was) under engineered. The number of welds is great and the weld that broke. . .indicates to me a weakness or design flaw." The pilot said the right tire was not scuffed and did not deflate, and the landing gear leg did not bend or crack.

According to the flight instructor's accident report, the pilot's performance in the traffic pattern "almost immediately became somewhat ragged and less precise and exhibited tension." He overshot his downwind-to-base turn by 20 degrees. The instructor took control of the airplane to reestablish a stable approach, and then returned control to the pilot. Threshold crossing airspeed was 55 knots. The pilot allowed the right wing to settle, giving a right turn. The instructor tried to recover but it was too late. "The airplane "landed hard with the right wing low resulting [in] major ballooning. When the bottom fell out, the plane landed extremely hard on the right main gear [and] proceeded off the runway" at a 20 to 30 degree angle and nosed over in the grass.

The airport manager, who witnessed the accident, said the airplane was not aligned with the runway centerline when it landed hard. The impact tore off the right main landing gear. The airplane veered off the runway and nosed over. The right wheel was found on the left side of the runway, and the airplane came to a halt about 300 feet off the right side of the runway.

The pilot submitted the fractured right main landing gear, and it was sent to NTSB's Materials Laboratory for examination and analysis. According to the Materials Research Engineer's Factual Report, the fracture was overstress, consistent with bending from a hard landing impact. There was a compression buckle at the top and a tensile fracture at the bottom. There was also considerable plastic deformation, but no indication of pre-existing cracks or defects. Steel type, wall thickness, yield strength, tensile strength, and hardness measurements met or exceeded specifications. "The fracture . . . [was the] result of impact on landing."

According to the airplane manufacturer, the gear assembly was designed in accordance with ASTM 2245, and successfully passed a drop test of 550 mm (21.7 inches) at a weight of 600 kg (1,323 pounds).

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