On January 18, 2008, about 1245 Alaska standard time, a Fairchild SA227-AC airplane, N41NE, had a rudder malfunction after encountering a severe wind gust during taxi for takeoff at the Dutch Harbor Airport, Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by Peninsula Airways Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, as an instrument flight rules (IFR) nonscheduled cargo flight under Title 14, CFR Part 121. The airline transport certificated pilot and the first officer were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed and activated. The airplane departed Dutch Harbor, and landed at the Ted Stevens International Airport, Anchorage, without incident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In a written statement, the pilot reported that during taxi for takeoff at Dutch Harbor, the airplane encountered a 68 knot wind gust. He said that they returned to the gate to examine the rudder because this airplane model has a history of rudder damage when encountering extreme wind gusts. Finding no damage, they elected to continue the flight. During initial climb after takeoff, the pilot said there was little, if any, left rudder control. The flight continued to the destination and landed without incident.
The airplane was examined by an FAA air safety inspector. From the pilot's position, the rudder is controlled by a cable which makes a 180 degree turn toward the tail via two phenolic pulleys. Each of the pulleys has two guard pins (P/N: NAS427W18), which keep the cable from jumping off the pulleys if the cable becomes slack. During the inspection, the inspector reported that the cable had jumped off the upper pulley, disabling the rudder system. She noted that the pulley's guard pin was retracted, and did not prevent the cable from being dislodged. The guard pin is a hollow roll pin with a perforated and deformed end, giving it a spring action which secures the pin after passing through the holes on either side of the pulley bracket. She said there are no current service difficulty reports on file for the pins, and they do not have any service life limits.
During an examination of all the same model airplanes in the operator's fleet, maintenance personnel found several guard pins that had come loose and retracted from their respective brackets. According to the director of maintenance for the operator, it appears that the pin's locking action becomes weakened by repeated use. The operator elected to replace all the pins in the operator's fleet, and submitted a service difficulty report to the FAA.
As a result of this incident, the manufacturer has published service letters 226-SL-037, 227-SL052, and CC7-SL-045. The service letters require at the next scheduled access that the pins be inspected, and that all pins (P/N NAS427K18) be replaced with pins (P/N NAS427W18), and secured with cotter pins (P/N MS24665-132).