Corrosion found to be a major cause of a Piper aircraft crash landing

pipersenecacorrosionLast July 2013, a Piper Seneca made an emergency crash landing at Durham Tees Valley Airport in the UK. The pilot was an ex-special forces serviceman, and when trying to land at a private airfield realized there was a mechanical fault with his aircraft.   The landing gear indicator lights would not turn green.  After several attempts at bringing down the gears and consulting with the control tower, he decided to make an emergency landing and manually lower the gears.

He did get the landing gears down at the last minute, but they did not lock and as he was touching down, one of the gears gave way and his wing and propeller hit the surface and the plane spun to a halt.   Thanks to his experience, no one was injured.

The investigation for that crash was recently completed and written in the local news. Read “Corrosion and Lack of Lubrication factors in Durham Tees Crash”. As one can tell by the headline, corrosion played a major part in the failure.  It wasn’t clear if the lubrication issue was related to the corrosion.  The clamping device that locks the wheels in place did not activate properly.

As a major distributor of Cortec corrosion protection products, we are always interested in problems with corrosion. Cortec is the leading global company with respect to corrosion protection products and the research and testing of corrosion related issues.

In regards to the Piper crash, it is impossible to accurately assess the nature and cause of the corrosion issue. But a couple of possibilities come to mind:

Inadequate Preventative Maintenance Program:  The aircraft was built in 1979, so it is 35 years old.   Even if the plane was perfect coming off the assembly line, no aircraft could function without a good maintenance program that included ongoing removal and protection from corrosion.   Cortec makes several products that are ideal for maintenance repair operations.  These include:

  • Corrshield VpCI®-368: Solvent-based, temporary coating that provides extended outdoor, multi-metal protection. Leaves a translucent, waxy finish that is scratch resistant and self-healing. Can be removed with common solvents
  • Corrshield VpCI®-369: For use as an oil additive and or temporary coating. The protective film is self-healing and moisture-displacing, providing superior protection against aggressive environments. VpCI®-369 is also excellent when used as an oil additive for mothballing, shipping, or storage of parts and equipment.
  • VpCI® Super Penetrant: A deep penetrating formulation that loosens frozen parts locked in rust. Its deep penetrating capabilities allow the user to go through as much as 1/2 inch (13 mm) of rust in 30 minutes.

More information on Maintenance Repair Products.

Improper Long Term Storage:  Many times privately owned aircraft are stored or “mothballed” for extended period of times.  It is high recommended that a process that includes internal and external corrosion protection is used.

Cortec has several products for such occasions:

VpCI®-416 Cleaner Degreaser Foaming: Heavy-duty, alkaline cleaner and degreaser that can be used in industrial applications. It is effective in neutralizing metal surfaces after acid cleaning or pickling operations. It can also provide corrosion protection for up to 6 months during indoor storage.

VpCI®-326 is an oil additive that helps reduce corrosion of internal engine parts and other mechanisms during storage.

Please refer to this blog post on three case studies that illustrated solutions for long term storage.

It is impossible to determine if lack of maintenance or improper mothballing were causes of the corrosion in this crash, but the discussion illustrates the broad base of Cortec products and expertise that can apply to thousands of real life situations.

Cortec products provide low cost, environmentally friendly, short term and long term corrosion protection for a variety of situations.  If you have potential challenges where corrosion is an issue, contact Packnet for a free consultation.  More information on Cortec Corrosion Protection Products.