Wings & Water: Sea and Be Seen: Grounding of Mallards

Crash Leads to Grounding of Mallards

The Vintage-Grumman community suffered a very public tragedy last December, when a Grumman Mallard G-73 flown by Chalk’s Ocean Airways lost part of its wing shortly after takeoff and crashed into the waters near Miami Beach before horrified onlookers. All 20 people on board were killed. Chalk’s, one of the world’s oldest airlines, had operated for more than 84 years without a fatal crash involving passengers; a 1994 incident claimed two pilots.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) expect to issue a final report on the Chalk’s accident later this year, but they announced in January that they had found fatigue cracks in the wing of the 58-year-old plane. Fatigue cracks were spotted shortly after it was recovered from the crash site, and this initial finding prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue an emergency order in December that conditionally grounded the other 37 G-73 Grumman Mallards in existence. These planes may not fly again until their owners have inspected their wings, made any necessary repairs, and had the repair work inspected and approved by the FAA.

Chalk’s, which serves Florida and the Bahamas and relies exclusively on vintage Mallard seaplanes, voluntarily grounded its remaining four aircraft a few days before the FAA announced its ruling.

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