ERA12LA150
ERA12LA150

On January 19, 2012, about 1630 central standard time, an M-Squared Breese 2 special light sport aircraft (S-LSA), N582MS, owned and operated by M-Squared Aircraft, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground after the student pilot activated the airplane's ballistic recovery system (BRS) parachute, shortly after takeoff from Roy E. Ray Airport (5R7), Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local instructional flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The student pilot reported that he departed St. Elmo Airport (2R5), St. Elmo Alabama, with a flight instructor, flew to 5R7, and completed three landings without incident. The flight instructor exited the airplane and the student pilot performed a full-stop landing without incident. During the subsequent climb after takeoff, the airplane yawed to the right, nearly 90-degrees to the runway. The student pilot noted that he was unable to depress the left rudder pedal more than 1 or 2 inches, and the right rudder pedal moved without resistance. He also noticed that the elevator control felt "loose and sloppy."

The student pilot tried several unsuccessful attempts to descend while maintaining a straight heading, and determined that he could not safely land the airplane. He subsequently elected to maneuver over a field, where he deployed the airplane's BRS parachute system, and reduced engine power. The parachute became partially entangled on the propeller, and the airplane impacted the ground on its front left side. The forward portion of the fuselage was substantially damaged.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the tail skid/rudder control tube was fractured. The inspector further noted that the rudder pedals were displaced during the impact with the ground; however, all connections remained intact. There were no other discrepancies observed to the flight control system.

The fractured rudder/tail skid control tube was forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination.

Metallurgical examination of the fractured tube revealed that it consisted of a 1-inch diameter outer tube and a 0.875-inch diameter inner tube. The tube was circumferentially fractured through both its outer and inner tubes at the bolted connection to a diagonal brace, extending to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The fracture bisected the fore and aft mounting holes for the diagonal brace and was below the ruder hinge point.

Magnified examinations of the fractures revealed shear lips and other features indicative of overstress separations in both tubes of the assembly. No indications of progressive cracking or corrosion were noted. The overall deformation pattern in the tube and the geometry of the fracture planes were consistent with bending overstress separation. The fracture location was the indicated fulcrum of the bending and the deformation was consistent with the lower end of the tube being displaced in the forward direction.

Hardness and electrical conductivity measurements revealed both tubes met the required properties listed on the manufacturer's source control documents; however, the outer tube's values were at the minimum specified in MIL-G-6088G, Military Specification Heat Treatment of Aluminum Alloys.

The tail skid tube was abraded completely through the lower wall. The abrasions were from forward to aft, consistent with contact while the airplane was in forward motion with a positive pitch attitude.

The student pilot reported 14 hours of total flight experience, all of which were accumulated during the previous 30 days, in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

The high-wing, tubular constructed, tricycle gear airplane, serial number 721, was issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category on July 22, 2008. It was equipped with a Rotax 582 series, 65-horsepower engine, mounted in a pusher configuration. At the time of the accident, the airplane had been operated about for 575 total hours since new, and 75 hours since its most recent condition inspection, which was performed on September 30, 2011.

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