Sunday, June 17, 2018

Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six, N7122J: Incident occurred January 22, 2021 and Accident occurred February 26, 2018 at Mackinac Island Airport (KMCD), Mackinac County, Michigan

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan 

January 22, 2021:  Aircraft struck a runway light on landing at Mackinac Island Airport (KMCD), Michigan. 

Great Lakes Air Inc

Date: 22-JAN-21
Time: 20:00:00Z
Regis#: N7122J
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA32
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Mackinac Island, MI
Accident Number: CEN18LA112
Date & Time: 02/26/2018, 0745 EST
Registration: N7122J
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from AC
Injuries: 5 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 


During the final approach for the short cross country flight, the pilot heard a "thud." During the landing flare the pilot suspected a landing gear issue and landed as gently as possible. However, the right wing settled onto the runway and was substantially damaged. A postaccident examination revealed that the landing gear had not been reinstalled correctly during maintenance performed in 2013. Only one of the 8 fasteners required for installation was recovered and it was sheered. The damage to the wing and landing gear was consistent with the improper installation of the fasteners and was not impact related. It is likely that the fasteners were either not installed or not torqued properly during the previous maintenance. Subsequent annual and 100-hour inspections did not detect this discrepancy.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The improper reinstallation of the right main landing gear by maintenance personnel which resulted in the separation of the landing gear and the subsequent abnormal runway contact during the landing.


Main landing gear - Incorrect service/maintenance (Cause)

Personnel issues
Installation - Maintenance personnel (Cause)

Factual Information

On February 26, 2018, about 0745 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six airplane, N7122J, was substantially damaged while landing at the Mackinac Island Airport (KMCD), Mackinac Island, Michigan. The commercial certificated pilot and 4 passengers were not injured. The airplane was owned and operated by Great Lakes Air Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a non-scheduled passenger flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight departed Mackinac County Airport (83D), St Ignace, Michigan, about 0730, and was en route to KMCD.

According to written statement submitted by the pilot, the airplane was on final approach when he heard a "thud." During the landing flare, the airplane seemed to settle more than normal. The pilot suspected a landing gear problem or a blown tire and decided to continue with the landing. The pilot landed as "gently" as possible; however, the airplane continued to settle, and the right wing touched the ground. He moved the engine throttle control to idle and maintained directional control with the rudder.

A post-accident examination of the airplane, conducted by the responding FAA inspector, revealed substantial damage to the right wing spar. The right main landing gear had separated and was located on the runway, about 200 ft from the arrival threshold. Further examination revealed that the attachment hardware for the right main landing gear was not present in 7 of the 8 mounting holes on the top or bottom mounting brackets. One screw remained in the outboard top bracket of the assembly and was sheered consistent with overload. Several of the holes were elongated consistent with inadequate torque of the fasteners. In addition, fretting was noted at the gear/spar attach point. The sheet metal and mounting surfaces on the wing were otherwise unremarkable.

A review of the maintenance records for the airplane revealed that the right main landing gear cylinder was removed and replaced on December 31, 2013. Several annual inspections had taken place since the replacement of the cylinder. The maintenance records indicated that the work was done in accordance with the Piper Maintenance Manual.

According to the Piper service manual for the airplane, the upper bracket of the assembly required 4 screws to attach the bracket to the wing. The lower bracket of the assembly requires 4 bolt/nut combinations to attach the bracket to the wing. Each fastener should have been torqued to 50 to 70 inch-pounds at installation.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 28
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/07/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/16/2018
Flight Time:  2621 hours (Total, all aircraft), 104 hours (Total, this make and model), 2494 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 243 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 104 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N7122J
Model/Series: PA 32 260
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1968
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-24134
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/26/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6344.9 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
Engine Model/Series: O-540-E4B5
Registered Owner: Great Lakes Air Inc
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: Great Lakes Air Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMCD, 741 ft msl
Observation Time: 0736 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: -3°C / -5°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots/ 15 knots, 250°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Saint Ignace, MI (83D)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Mackinac Island, MI (KMCD)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0730 EST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Mackinac Island Airport (KMCD)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 741 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Ice
Runway Used: 26
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3501 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 4 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 5 None
Latitude, Longitude: 45.876111, -84.636944 (est)

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