Aussies Send Whyalla Engines Home For Investigation

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As AVweb reported late last year, Australia's Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) investigation into the May 2000 crash of a Whyalla Airlines Piper Chieftain could tie directly to Lycoming's massive recall of potentially defective crankshafts. The ATSB's report on the crash concluded that the Chieftain's two Lycoming TSIO-JT2B engines failed "dependently," meaning that the failure of the left engine caused the pilot to select a higher power setting on the right engine, which subsequently failed. Now, the agency has filed a controversial application to have the engines of the crashed aircraft returned to Australia after being tested in the U.S. The ATSB served notice on South Australian Coroner Wayne Chivell to produce the engines in Adelaide by tomorrow. "The bureau wants a further look at the components, in particular on the left-hand engine," an ATSB spokesman said last Thursday. The agency reopened its investigation last November, after Textron Lycoming listed the crankshaft from the left-hand engine of the crashed Chieftain in a batch of parts that could have been built from faulty steel. Even with these facts noted in its application, the ATSB is encountering resistance from the accident victims' families. Attorneys representing the families of the eight victims claim the move by the ATSB could slash any potential damages claim because it may prevent them from having the case resolved in a U.S. court.

NOTE: For more background on this story, be sure to read John Deakin's August 2002 Pelican Perch feature article, which took a detailed look at the accident.