Event Details

Title:Idiopathic control wheel lockup, Boeing 737-3M8, November 29, 2003
Micro summary:This Boeing 737-3M8 experienced a momentary lock-up of the pilots' wheels on the control column.
Event Time:2003-11-29 at 0840 MST
File Name:2003-11-29-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:DEN04IA026
Site of event:Denver, CO
Departure:General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Destination:Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado, USA
Airplane Type(s):Boeing 737-3M8
Flight Phase:Approach
Operator(s):Frontier Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:

NTSB short summary:

The restricted movement of the flight control yoke and tiller wheel steering for reasons undetermined.

NTSB synopsis:

While on final approach approximately 1/4 mile from the end of the runway, the captain applied right aileron to correct for a crosswind. He said the control yoke felt like it had "bound up." He used "excessive pressure" to get the control yoke to respond. An uneventful landing was made. During taxi, the captain cycled the control yoke left and right. After a few cycles, it seemed to move freely. He made an intentional sharp left turn and the tiller wheel seemed to "bind up." Mechanics performed a nose landing gear wheel steering test, and checked the cable tension to the nose wheel steering. A leak was discovered in the right hand nose steering accumulator, but the leak was "within limits." The case drain plugs and filters and the left and right hand aileron cables from the main wheel well outboard were inspected. Following flight control movement card 7-9002, mechanics performed an aileron PCU internal leak check. No discrepancies were noted. The airplane was then test flown and was returned to service. No data was recovered from the DFDR that would explain the event as described by the captain.

NTSB factual narrative text:

On November 29, 2003, at 0840 mountain standard time, a Boeing 737-3M8, N303FL, operating as Frontier Airlines flight 567, experienced a momentary lock up of the captain and first officer's aileron and flight spoiler controls, while on final approach into Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, Colorado. The airline transport certificated captain and first officer, 3 cabin crewmembers, and 130 passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The scheduled domestic passenger flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 121. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at 0637 central standard time.

The captain reported that they were on final approach approximately 1/4 mile from the end of the runway when he applied right aileron to correct for a crosswind. "The [control] yoke felt like it had 'bound up'." He had to use excessive pressure to get the control yoke to respond. An uneventful landing was made at DEN. After landing, he cycled the yoke left and right. After a few cycles, it seemed to free up. The captain said that while taxiing to parking with the number 2 engine shut down, he made a sharp left turn and the tiller [wheel] seemed to "bind up."

After the passengers had deplaned, the airplane was taken to Frontier's maintenance hangar where mechanics performed a "[nose landing gear] wheel steering test [in accordance with Maintenance Manual] 32-51-00. Checked good. Performed cable tension to nose wheel steering [in accordance with Maintenance Manual] 32-51-00. Tension good. Found [right hand] nose steering accumulator leaking. Leak limits good [in accordance with Maintenance Manual] 29-00-00, page 605. Inspected case drain filters. Found no discrepancies [reference Maintenance Manual 24-15-91]. Removed and reinstalled #2 engine case drain plug to inspect. Found no discrepancies [reference Maintenance Manual 29-15-00]. Inspected [left hand] and [right hand] aileron cables from main [wheel well] outboard visually. No discrepancies noted. Complied with flight control movement card 7-9002. No discrepancies noted. Performed aileron PCU internal leak check procedure [reference Maintenance Manual 84-00-00. No discrepancies noted. Aircraft is released for operational check flight. Performed post operational check flight, walk around inspection." During the test flight, no discrepancies were noted and the airplane was returned to service.

The digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was removed from the airplane and sent to NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for readout. According to the DFDR engineer, no data was recovered that would explain the event as described by the captain.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Upset - Uncommanded or excessive Roll
Systems - Flight Control System
Close match:Uncommanded roll, Serious incident on March 20, 2001 at Frankfurt/Main, to Airbus Industrie A320-200
Excessive right aileron required on Boeing 737-400, EI-BXB, at Dublin Airport
Uncommanded roll, Boeing 737-236 Advanced, G-BGJI
Flight control system failure, Report on the incident to Airbus A320-212, G-KMAM, London Gatwick Airport, on 26 August 1993
Electrical arcing severs aileron cable on Boeing 767-332ER, June 25, 1996
Aileron control cable failure on a Boeing 737-3TO on takeoff at Seattle, September 27, 1997
Uncommanded roll to the left, Boeing 737-3B7, August 5, 1995
Uncommanded roll, Douglas DC-8-71F, December 14, 2001
Uncommanded roll, McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, July 12, 1997
Uncommanded roll during cruise, Airbus A320-211, April 28, 1995
Uncommanded roll and yaw, Douglas DC-9-34, April 30, 1998
Uncommanded pitch increase, Airbus A320, June 14, 1996
Control difficulties, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, October 21, 1998
Reduced roll capability, Boeing 747-422, April 1, 2003
Roll control difficulties, McDonnell Douglas MD-11F, N583FE, January 15, 2003
Roll Oscillations on Landing, two Air Canada Airbus 321-s211, C-GJVX and C-GIUF, Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario, 07 December 2002


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