When the wing of an airplane separates in flight, it gets people’s attention. So last year, when the left wing of a Piper Arrow came off of an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University training plane, it was big news, not only because it’s a horrifying scenario over which the pilots had no control, but also because everyone wanted answers. The 30-page final report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) not only goes into the minutiae of how it happened but asks bigger questions about how we think of training and training aircraft.
On April 4, 2018, two were killed in a crash of a Piper Arrow retractable-gear single-engine trainer that happened during a commercial certificate FAA checkride in Daytona Beach, Florida. The immediate cause of the crash was obvious from the start. The left wing of the Arrow separated in flight, causing the Arrow to immediately go out of control and crash. The failure was catastrophic and unrecoverable. The two who died in the crash were the commercial pilot applicant, Zach Capra, 25, a private pilot at the time of the crash, and the pilot examiner, John Azma, 61, who was an ATP.