ERA09LA209
ERA09LA209

On March 8, 2009, about 1730 central daylight time, a Piper PA-30, N8560Y, operated by the private pilot, experienced a landing gear collapse during landing at I. H. Bass Jr. Memorial Airport (4R1), Lumberton, Mississippi. The airplane was substantially damaged and the certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from 4R1 about 1700.

The pilot reported that after flying over the local area for approximately 30 minutes, he returned to 4R1 for landing. During final approach, the pilot verified twice that the landing gear was down. The airplane touched down about 150 feet beyond the threshold of runway 14, a 3,000-foot-long, 75-foot-wide, asphalt runway. The pilot further stated that the airplane touched down softly on the right main landing gear first, due to his control input to compensate for a right crosswind. About 1,500 feet into the landing roll, the airplane started to drift left of centerline, and the pilot applied right rudder pedal to correct. At that time, the airplane "dropped on its belly," slid about 75 feet, and came to rest on the runway.

Witnesses also reported that the airplane touched down and rolled a significant distance, before the landing gear collapsed.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed damage, which included bulkheads and a stringer. The FAA inspector and an independent mechanic subsequently examined the landing gear system. The examination revealed that the left main landing gear sidebrace, sidebrace studs, and links were worn. The worn components allowed the left main landing gear down limit switch to make contact before the draglink reached the center or overcenter position. The early contact stopped the landing gear motor after the right main landing gear and nose landing gear were locked in the extended position; however, the left main landing gear had not reached the locked position. Subsequently, a minor sideload could collapse the left main landing gear.

Airworthiness directive (AD) 97-01-01R1 required an extensive applicable landing gear inspection for the make and model airplane, after every 1,000 hours time in service. Review of the maintenance records by the FAA inspector revealed that the last inspection required by the AD was performed on March 22, 1997, at a total airframe time of 5,853 hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated a total airframe time of 6,795 hours; the airplane had accumulated 942 hours in service since the last inspection. Although the AD required the inspection after 1,000 hours in service, it did not specify a calendar date. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on January 20, 2009. The airplane had accumulated 5 hours of operation since the most recent annual inspection.

Review of the National Transportation Safety Board accident/incident database and FAA service difficulty reports, for the 5-year period preceding the accident, did not reveal any similar landing gear collapse events for the make and model airplane.

The pilot noted that his total flight experience was approximately 3,500 hours; of which, about 1,700 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

The pilot reported that the wind at the time of the accident was from 170 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 18 knots. The reported wind at an airport located about 15 miles northeast of the accident site, at 1753, was from 180 degrees at 14 knots.

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