Sunday, July 22, 2012

Piper PA-28-180, N3692R: Accident occurred July 20, 2012 in Statesboro, Georgia

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA469
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 20, 2012 in Statesboro, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/19/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N3692R
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

About 5 minutes after takeoff, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power and impacted a row of trees during the resultant forced landing. The accident flight was the first following a 100-hour maintenance inspection. The pilot/mechanic reported that he had changed the engine oil and oil filter as part of that inspection; however, he did not utilize a torque wrench to tighten the filter as required. Oil was noted on the ground, beginning in the area outside of the hangar doors where the maintenance was performed to the departure runway. Postaccident examination revealed that the filter was secured in place with a safety wire; however, it was able to be freely rotated by hand to the extent of that wire. It is likely that during the operation of the engine on the accident flight, oil escaped around the oil filter, which resulted in oil exhaustion and subsequent seizure of the engine.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power as a result of oil exhaustion due to the mechanic's failure to apply appropriate torque to the oil filter.

On July 20, 2012, about 1400 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N3692R, experienced a total loss of engine power about 5 minutes after takeoff from the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport (TBR), Statesboro, Georgia and the pilot/mechanic subsequently made an off airport forced landing to a peanut field. The certificated private pilot sustained minor injuries and a passenger was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a maintenance test flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight.

The pilot/mechanic reported that prior to the flight he had completed a 100 hour maintenance inspection on the airplane which included an oil and oil filter change. After the inspection he operated the engine inside an airport hangar at 1500 rpm and had detected no oil leaks. He subsequently pulled the airplane out of the hangar, performed an engine run-up with full power, and determined that the engine was operating as expected. He taxied to runway 14, performed another high power run-up, and departed on the local maintenance flight. Shortly after departure, approximately 800 feet above ground level, he noted a loss of oil pressure and subsequent total loss of engine power.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that it came to rest in a tree line, at the edge of a field, slightly nose down, and the right wing had been impact separated by a tree. The stabilator was impact separated. Evidence of blight was noted on the vegetation in the vicinity of the accident airplane; however, the fuel line to the carburetor was devoid of fuel. A follow-up examination by an FAA inspector, which coincided with the recovery of the airplane, revealed oil streaking around the lower nose gear truss and along the underside of the fuselage. Further examination revealed that the crankshaft was seized. Examination of the engine revealed that the oil dipstick tube was impact damaged. Examination of the oil filter revealed that it was hand tight and the safety wire was secured; however, the oil filter was able to rotate counter clockwise to the extent of the safety wire. The pilot/mechanic confirmed that he had not utilized any torque device to tighten the oil filter. Examination of the hangar where the maintenance had been performed revealed, outside the hangar doors, a large area of oil on the ground as well as an oil trail from that hangar to the departure end of runway 14. 

According to the Lycoming Publication titled "Lycoming Flyer," 18 to 20 foot pounds of torque should be applied when installing an oil filter on the engine. However, it further states that the 20 foot pound maximum torque should not be exceeded.

A small airplane crashed Friday near Mill Creek Park, but no injuries were reported, according to the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office. 

 At 5:59 p.m., deputies responded to a 911 call from a pilot who reported that mechanical difficulties had forced the plane he was flying to make an emergency landing.

Bulloch County 911 pinpointed the pilot's position to Georgia Highway 24, just past Mill Creek Park, Sheriff Lynn Anderson said in a news release.

Deputies responded and found the pilot and his passenger. Bulloch EMS responded to treat a minor complaint from the passenger, but otherwise, no one was harmed, the release says.

The airplane, a four-passenger single-engine model, was found heavily damaged in a field. It flew out of Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport and was returning there when the mechanical problems began, the sheriff said.

The case has been forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration for further investigation.

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