Accident description
Last updated: 25 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 10 May 2001
Time:12:32
Type:McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Operator:Spanair
Registration: EC-FXI
C/n / msn: 49630/1591
First flight: 1989
Total airframe hrs:42293
Cycles:21327
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 45
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 51
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Liverpool International Airport (LPL) (   United Kingdom) show on map
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:Int'l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI/LEPA), Spain
Destination airport:Liverpool International Airport (LPL/EGGP), United Kingdom
Flightnumber:3203
Narrative:
An automatic landing on runway 27 was carried out with the first officer being the pilot flying. The right main landing gear failed immediately upon touchdown. The aircraft slid along the runway and came to a halt some 1,600 metres further on, resting on its right flaps, slats and wingtip. An emergency evacuation was carried out. Examination of the aircraft showed that the right main gear strut cylinder had fractured below the attachment trunnions, releasing the wheels/axle assembly back into the flaps and wing/fuselage fairing. The lower portion of the failed cylinder remained attached only by the sidestay. A closer inspection revealed the presence of an anomaly on the forward outer surface of the cylinder fracture, which subsequent examination identified as a fatigue crack measuring approximately 3.5mm long and 1.1mm deep.

CAUSAL FACTORS:
1. The right main landing gear cylinder failed immediately upon touchdown due to the application of spin-up drag loads on a section of the cylinder containing a major fatigue crack 3.2 mm long and 1.0 mm deep and several other smaller cracks associated with it.
2. The origins of these fatigue cracks could not be identified but other embryonic cracks were found which were associated with surface irregularities arising from a grit-blasting process during manufacture. Abnormal loading, possibly due to an occurrence of a mode of fore-and-aft vibration known as 'gear walking' is thought to have been responsible, at some time in the aircraft's history, for propagating the cracks to a depth at which continued growth was possible under normal loading. Alternatively, some abnormal loading may have relaxed the beneficial compressive surface stresses induced by shot-peening at the critical section and allowed propagation from the same surface defects.
3. Inspection and other mandatory preventive measures taken following two similar accidents did not prevent the occurrence of this third accident. This was probably due to the small size of cracks which are required to be detected before reaching a critical dimension.

Sources:

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - United Kingdom
report status: Final
report number: AAIB AAR 4/03
download report: Report on the accident to McDonnell-Douglas MD-83, EC-FXI, at Liverpool Airport on 10 May 2001 (AAIB AAR 4/03)
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Follow-up / safety actions

AAIB issued 5 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of McDonnell Douglas MD-83 EC-FXI
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Palma de Mallorca Airport to Liverpool International Airport as the crow flies is 1579 km (987 miles).

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