...AD Didn't Cover Latest Failure Site
One question investigators are trying to answer is this: If G-13 had the required AMOC, why did the wing fail? This much is known, according to Braly: The wing on the most recent crash failed in an entirely different area of the aircraft structure than in both the Rydell, Ga., crash in 1999 and the 2003 crash near Houston. In both of the earlier crashes, the wing spar failed at a point about a foot outboard of the so-called "bathtub" fitting, an opening under the wing that allows access to the wing through bolts. In the most recent Texas crash, the failure point was in the center fuselage section, well inboard of the bathtub fitting. The recent crash highlights a certain tension between the mock air combat trade and those generally more ... subdued ... fliers of the T-34 Association. With three high-profile crashes in the combat arena, other T-34 owners who use their airplanes in far milder pursuits find themselves again dragged into what may be a protracted and expensive AD process. Braly believes T-34s can be used safely in mock air combat if they're maintained carefully and flown to a 4G limit. Recording G-meters and periodic inspections might help. Nonetheless, Braly believes T-34s not used for air combat should be spared extraordinary inspection and maintenance requirements. "We have been begging the FAA since 1999 to draw a distinction between commercial use of T-34s and any other use," Braly told us. Considering last week's emergency AD, the FAA apparently isn't yet sold on that idea.