View Full Version : Cessna 172 in-flight break-ups.

Johnny L.A.
04-28-2006, 10:44 AM
For the longest time I've heard that there has never been an in-flight break-up of a Cessna 172. I've posted the factoid here in the past. But I've found that N219ME suffered an in-flight break-up on 21 March 2003, apparently after maneuvering in excess of VNE. This was noted in a cached forum I found with google. The poster said that this was the first one.

I emailed Cessna to find out about break-ups. I received this:
Although rare, C-172s have experienced in-flight breakups.
So I emailed back asking how many. This reply:
Iím sorry. I donít know that data...
Obviously aircraft will come apart in a collision. But N219ME is the only 172 I've heard of to have a structural failure not related to a collision. The accident aircraft is a 2000 Cessna 172S. It is currently registered. I don't know if it was destroyed, if it was repaired, or if another 172S was assigned the same number.

So my little factoid about the safety of Skyhawks is no longer valid. But they are still very safe and reliable aircraft. Is there a way to find out how many 172s have suffered structural failure? That way I can say 'In 50 years, only x number of 172s have broken up in flight' to illustrate the safety of the aircraft.

04-28-2006, 11:36 AM
The NTSB report (http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief2.asp?ev_id=20030325X00386&ntsbno=ATL03FA064&akey=1).

Probable cause: The pilot exceeded the design limits of the airplane which resulted in the right wing separating and subsequent loss of control.

04-28-2006, 03:08 PM
I cannot provide a direct answer to your question, but you may be interested in this article (http://www.usau.com/USAU.nsf/Doc/Cessna172SafetyHighlights/$File/Cessna_skyhawk.pdf) if you haven't already seen it (note--it's a pdf).