Chalk’s Ocean Airways has voluntarily grounded its remaining fleet of four Grumman Turbo Mallards after investigators found a serious fatigue crack in the wing spar of the Mallard that crashed off Miami Beach on Monday. Meanwhile, NTSB investigators spent yesterday poring over flight and repair records and scrutinizing Chalk’s maintenance program, developed for the salt-water environment and rough landings the amphibians encountered each day.
Grumman G-73T Turbo Mallard, Miami Beach, Fla., Dec. 19, 2005–The right wing separated from a Chalk’s Turbo Mallard as it was taking off from Chalk’s Watson Island seaplane base. It plunged into the ocean, and all 20 people on board–18 passengers and two crewmembers–died. A witness said he heard a loud noise, then saw the wing fall off before the amphibious airplane fell into the water in flames.