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A sheared bolt has been identified as the cause of an incident at Sandown Airport earlier this year, in which a plane veered off the main runway and into undergrowth.

An Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) report has highlighted the incident on 13th July 2018, which has until now gone unreported.

According to the report, shortly after touchdown the left landing gear assembly of plane G-ULSY – a Ikarus C42 FB80 – failed, allowing the mainwheel to pivot rearwards and inwards towards the fuselage. The aircraft veered left uncontrollably, departed the prepared surface and came to rest in long grass adjacent to the runway.

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Neither occupant was injured and they vacated the aircraft unaided. Emergency services are not thought to have been summoned to the airport.

Investigations into the incident revealed that the rod end bolt connecting the drag link to the undercarriage assembly had sheared forward of the rose joint lock nut. The pilot reported that the touchdown was not unduly heavy and that he had not started braking at the time of failure.

The AAIB report states it has not been possible to determine what caused the bolt to shear.

Whilst other aircraft types, such as the Pietenpol Air Camper, have experienced issues with undercarriage rod end bearing failures, this was the first such Ikarus C42 incident notified to the aircraft type’s CAMO. The CAMO would continue to monitor component failure trends and would take action should rod end reliability become a cause for concern.

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