NTSB: ERAU Crash An In-flight Breakup


The NTSB is officially calling the fatal crash at Embry-Riddle earlier this month an in-flight breakup, although its report thus far is only preliminary. The accident occurred on April 4 and killed ERAU student Zach Capra and FAA DPE John S. Azma. Several eyewitnesses reported seeing the left wing of the Piper PA-28 Arrow separate from the aircraft while it was climbing out after a touch-and-go at Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB). The wing was found about 200 feet from the main wreckage.

Although the investigation is ongoing, the NTSB’s report notes that “preliminary examination of the left wing main spar revealed that more than 80% of the lower spar cap and portions of the forward and aft spar web doublers exhibited fracture features consistent with metal fatigue.” Fatigue cracking was also discovered in the same location on the right wing. No signs of corrosion or other pre-accident damage to the wings have been found, the NTSB said.

The accident airplane was manufactured in 2007 and had 7,690 hours on the airframe. The plane’s most recent annual was completed on March 21, just 14 days before the accident. According to the report, Capra was taking his commercial practical examination at the time of the crash. The rest of Embry-Riddle’s Arrows are grounded with no word yet on plans to return them to service.