Van’s RV-6A flips after landing gear strut or fork contacts runway on landing

Van’s RV-6A flips after landing gear strut or fork contacts runway on landing

Source: South Australia Police

An ATSB investigation into a landing accident involving a Van’s RV-6A at William Creek, South Australia on 28 July 2019 found that the aircraft’s nosewheel landing gear’s strut or fork made contact with the runway, bending the nose gear under the aircraft.

The accident occurred when the aircraft was landing on an unsealed runway at William Creek. During the landing, the  aircraft’s main gear touched down first, before the nose gear touched down momentarily. The pilot would later note that although the nose gear lifted off the runway, the main gear stayed on the runway.

When the nose gear made contact with the runway surface for the second time, it bent under the aircraft. The propeller then struck the runway and the aircraft skidded on its nose before flipping over coming to a rest inverted. The pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger minor injuries, while the aircraft was substantially damaged.

Pilots of tricycle variants of Van’s aircraft need to take into account the many factors that can affect the ground clearance of their aircraft’s nose gear.

The ATSB investigation found that during the landing sequence the nose gear fork or strut made contact with the runway surface and bent underneath the aircraft. The investigation also established that the nose gear’s strut and fork had sustained no fractures, and that instead, the top of the strut had bent, near the engine mount.

“A reduction in the nose gear ground clearance during landing can result in the nose gear strut or fork impacting the runway and affect the structural integrity of the nose gear,” said ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod.

“In the tricycle variants of Van’s aircraft, the factors that can affect nose gear ground clearance include the dynamics of the landing, tyre pressure, weight over the nose gear, and runway condition and characteristics.”

In 2007, Van’s issued a mandatory Service Bulletin with a redesigned nose gear that provided greater clearance. The aircraft that flipped at William Creek was compliant with this Service Bulletin, and was also fitted with two after-market devices aimed at reducing the risk of a nose-gear collapse and aircraft inversion.

Read the report AO-2019-037: Landing accident involving Van’s RV-6A, VH-ANU, William Creek, South Australia, on 28 July 2019

Last update 12 February 2020