Pilot on training flight had to declare mayday

Pilot on training flight had to declare mayday
The plane landed safely at Cork Airport after declaring a Mayday. Picture: Denis Scannell

A pilot on a training flight at Cork Airport had to declare a mayday after his plane’s ailerons became jammed and he could not stop the aircraft rolling right.

He managed to land the plane safely but was forced to go around and approach the airport from the opposite direction due to the wind conditions.

An Air Accident Investigation report was carried out following the incident on October 29, 2017.

The aircraft, a Bellanca Decathlon with two crew, was conducting an upset recovery training flight from Cork.

The pilot was instructing another pilot by demonstrating some aerobatic manoeuvres and stall recovery. He said he entered a roll to the left which he paused at approximately 170 degrees. He then rolled the aircraft to the right to recover to a normal attitude.

When he reached the wings level position (the point at which he would normally neutralise the ailerons), he found he could not stop the aircraft rolling right. He said that with considerable force applied to the left, it was apparent to him that the ailerons were jammed, and that both were deflected by 10-15 degrees, starboard up, port down

He declared a mayday on the Cork Airport approach frequency. He said the controller was very professional, provided all the assistance she could, and allowed him to stay on the same frequency throughout the emergency.

He decided to attempt an approach to the runway 35 from the Ballygarvan direction. On landing, the right wheel touched first and the pilot said that it was immediately obvious to him that the only safe option was to go-around.

The pilot said that during the go-around he realised that ideally a runway with a “strong” crosswind from the right was required. With clearance from ATC, he positioned for finals and landed “relatively normally” on RWY 25.

An inspection of the aircraft uncovered a large bolt inside the wing. Positioning the bolt within the aileron mechanism showed that it could produce a restriction consistent with that reported by the pilot.

As the plane had its bolts in their correct positions, the report suggests the bolt may have been left in the wing following a prior maintenance.

The report concluded: “This was a serious incident which was handled well by the experienced pilot, and facilitated by ATC. The circumstances serve to highlight the importance of thorough maintenance practices; loose article checks prior to closing up an area; and part and tool control discipline.”

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