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AAIB Report: Pitts S-1C (G-BTOO), Disconnection of Elevator Control Inflight, 27 March 2022

During a test flight, a modified Pitts S-1C (G-BTOO) landed heavily after the elevator control disconnected inflight at Popham Airfield, Hampshire, 27 March 2022


Image: Showing bellcrank and disconnected pivot joint after recovery to the hangar, view looking towards top of fuselage, cockpit is to the left.
Image: Showing bellcrank and disconnected pivot joint after recovery to the hangar, view looking towards top of fuselage, cockpit is to the left.

The pilot was conducting a test flight as part of the process of regaining G-BTOO’s permit to fly following an extensive rebuild. As the pilot was flying straight and level at 140mph, he became aware the elevator was no longer connected to the control column. The pilot was able to maintain control, but during the final stages of the approach, the aircraft pitched nose down and landed heavily on the forward fuselage – it came to rest inverted. The pilot received a severe laceration to his head and was taken to hospital.


The investigation found that a pivot joint at the end of an elevator pushrod had become disconnected, probably due to the lack of a split pin to prevent the securing bolt’s castle nut from loosening. Although not directly linked to this accident, discrepancies were found regarding adherence to LAA guidance for recording work. In addition, it was noted that the extent to which the 51% rule for amateur-built aircraft needs to be applied in relation to overhaul, repair, and restoration was not clear in the regulatory material.


As a result of these findings, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) have both stated they will be taking two Safety Actions each to address these issues.


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