Monday, May 29, 2017

Cessna 400 Corvalis (LC41-550FG), N400BZ, Icarus Air LLC: Accident occurred April 18, 2015 at Space Coast Regional Airport (KTIX), Titusville, Brevard County, Florida




The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Orlando, Florida 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors, Inc.; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:   https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Icarus Air LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N400BZ

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA189 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 18, 2015 in Titusville, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/06/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA LC41-550FG, registration: N400BZ
Injuries: 3 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.

During a preflight inspection, the private pilot verified that the engine contained about 7 quarts of oil; he subsequently departed on a cross-country flight. About 1 hour into the flight, the pilot observed the oil pressure decline. The propeller stopped turning, and smoke entered the cabin. The pilot declared an emergency and subsequently completed a forced landing at a nearby airport. As the airplane came to rest, the pilot observed flames coming from the engine cowling. After the passengers egressed, most of the airplane was consumed by fire.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed thermal damage to the engine compartment and fuselage. One exhaust valve rocker box cover was missing, another rocker box cover was missing multiple screws, and a third rocker box cover was loose. Multiple oil journals were dry and displayed heat discoloration. The separation of the rocker box cover resulted in the engine depleting its oil supply during the flight and a subsequent catastrophic engine failure due to oil starvation. 

A review of the airplane’s maintenance history indicated that the rocker box covers would have been removed about 4 years before the accident when the engine was disassembled following a propeller strike. However, based on maintenance log entries, it could not be determined whether the rocker box covers had been removed or inspected since that time. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An inflight fire and a total loss of engine power due to oil starvation, after separation of the No. 3 cylinder exhaust valve rocker box cover for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.




On April 18, 2015, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Cessna LC41-550FG, N400BZ, was substantially damaged during a fire after an emergency landing at Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX), Titusville, Florida. The private pilot, pilot-rated-passenger and an additional passenger were uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight, which departed Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), Savannah, Georgia, about 1145 and was destined for Okeechobee County Airport (OBE), Okeechobee, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he planned to fly the airplane to OBE for a 50-hour service and some cosmetic maintenance work. During the preflight inspection, he noted about 7 quarts of oil in the oil sump. The pilot then departed, but approximately 1 hour into the flight and during a descent to 8,000 feet mean sea level (msl), he noticed the oil pressure decrease "into the red," while the other instruments remained "in the green." The pilot reported the loss of oil pressure to air traffic control and about 1 minute later, the oil pressure decreased to 0. He identified the nearest airport as TIX and started an emergency descent. As the airplane approached 3,000 feet msl, the engine lost all power and smoke entered the cabin through the air vents. The pilot completed a forced landing to runway 27, but after the airplane came to rest he observed flames coming from the cowling. The pilot and passengers egressed before the fire consumed most of the airplane fuselage.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the engine cowling was destroyed by fire and portions of the airframe and cabin area were substantially damaged. The inspector noted that the No. 3 cylinder exhaust valve rocker box cover was missing and three screws were missing from the No. 4 cylinder exhaust rocker box cover. A screw was also missing from the No. 4 cylinder intake valve rocker box cover, but the cover was in contact with the gasket and no gap was observed between the cover and the mounting surface. The No. 2 cylinder exhaust rocker box cover was loose; however, each of the cover's respective screws were present.

Additional examination of the airplane was conducted on-scene by representatives of the engine and airframe manufacturer, under supervision of the FAA inspector. A large amount of soot and thermal by-products were observed on the No. 3 cylinder exposed rocker arm and surrounding head surfaces. A small hole was observed on the top of the right crankcase half near the No. 5 cylinder base and a similar hole was observed on the left crankcase half near the base of the No. 4 cylinder. The through-bolt nut to the top rear crankcase section was missing and the through-bolt head had backed off from the installed position by about 1/2 inch; however, all six cylinders remained attached to the engine crankcase.

According to a representative of the Titusville Fire Department, their team performed a safety inspection for foreign object debris on runway 09/27; however, the No. 3 cylinder exhaust valve rocker box cover was not located.

The forward section of the oil sump was destroyed by fire. The oil rod was intact and displayed a small amount of dark viscous liquid on the bottom of the rod. The oil quick drain valve was in the closed position and secured to the oil sump with safety wire. Both the oil cooler and oil filter were intact and exhibited some thermal damage; the oil pressure sending unit was destroyed by fire.

A subsequent engine examination was completed at the engine manufacturer's facility under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The crankcase displayed multiple puncture holes throughout the case. Disassembly of the engine revealed that each of the six connecting rods had separated from the crankshaft at their respective journals. Multiple main oil journals were dry and heat discolored, consistent with oil starvation. The oil sump displayed thermal damage and contained metallic fragments. The main bearing journals appeared blue in color and the connecting rod journals were rusted and exhibited rotational scoring. The camshaft was broken at the No. 5/No. 6 cylinder position.

The pilot reported that he was not aware that the rocker box covers were loose and further stated that he had not removed or manipulated the covers during the time he owned the airplane. He reported that the airplane had only required 1 quart of oil in the preceding 20 hours of operation and recalled that the airplane had been "flying great."

The four-seat, low wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 2008 and powered by a Continental Motors TSIO-550-C, 310-horsepower reciprocating engine. The FAA registration records indicated that the airplane was purchased by the accident pilot in February 2015. According to the maintenance records, the airplane's most recent required service consisted of an annual inspection that was performed on June 13, 2014, at an airframe time of 459 total flight hours, 43 flight hours before the accident. At the time of the service, the engine had accumulated 459 total flight hours since its production. Additionally, a pre-buy inspection of the airplane was performed on February 6, 2015. According to the maintenance facility that performed the inspection, the engine rocker box covers were not removed during the inspection.

The engine was disassembled and inspected on October 31, 2011, following a propeller strike. The associated maintenance entry stated that the engine was disassembled, cleaned, and "all parts inspected per instructions in TCM overhaul – manual and applicable service bulletins and airworthiness directives." The engine was then reassembled with new main bearings, rod bearings, rod bolts/nuts, new seals, and gaskets. Additionally, the camshaft and lifters were replaced during this service. According to SB96-11B, a service bulletin that was issued by the engine manufacturer and active at the time of the propeller strike inspection, the engine must be completely disassembled and all rotating engine components inspected following any propeller strike. Additionally, the Continental Motors, Inc. overhaul manual stated that the engine should be disassembled completely in accordance with Chapters 12 and 13 of the manual following a propeller strike. Chapter 12 includes instructions to remove the screws, lock washers, washers, and rocker box covers to all six cylinders.

The airplane was equipped with a Garmin G1000 multi-function display that was capable of recording airplane and engine performance data to an SD data card. The data card was removed and successfully downloaded at the NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Division in Washington, D.C. The data parameters that were recorded for the accident flight included, fuel flow, exhaust gas temperature, oil pressure, and rpm.

According to the data, the airplane began a takeoff roll at 1135:35, at which point the engine rpm increased from 1,200 rpm to 2,550 rpm. The flight was uneventful until about 1249:30, when the oil pressure began a steady decline. At 1253:10, the oil pressure reached 0 psi while the airplane was at approximately 8,000 feet pressure altitude in a constant descent from 10,000 feet. In the 2 minutes and 30 seconds that followed, the exhaust gas temperature of each cylinder rose slightly and then decreased to about 400 degrees F. The airplane reached a pressure altitude of 0 feet at 12:57:00 and the indicated airspeed decreased to 0 knots approximately 30 seconds later.


NTSB Identification: ERA15LA189
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 18, 2015 in Titusville, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA LC41-550FG, registration: N400BZ
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 18, 2014, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Cessna LC41-550FG airplane, N400BZ, was substantially damaged during a fire after landing near Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX), Titusville, Florida. The private pilot, pilot rated passenger and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), Savannah, Georgia about 1145 and was destined for Okeechobee County Airport (OBE), Okeechobee, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he planned to fly the airplane to OBE for a 50 hour service and some cosmetic work. During the pilot's preflight he noted about 7 quarts of oil in the engine and subsequently departed. About 1 hour into the flight and during a descent to 8,000 feet, the pilot noticed the oil pressure drop "into the red"; the other instruments remained "in the green." The pilot reported the loss of oil pressure to ATC and about a minute later the oil pressure dropped to zero. He identified the nearest airport as TIX and started an emergency descent. As they approached 3,000 feet, the engine quit and smoke began to come into the cabin through the fresh air vents. The pilot completed a forced landing to runway 27 and once the airplane came to rest he observed flames coming from the cowling. A fire consumed most of the airplane after the pilot and passengers egressed.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the engine cowling was destroyed by fire and portions of the airframe and cabin area were substantially damaged. At the time he also noted the cylinder #3 exhaust rocker box cover was completely missing and another hung from two screws. The cylinder #2 exhaust box rocker cover was loose and missing multiple screws. The fire department searched runway 27 and the adjacent grass areas, but did not locate the missing rocker cover.

Postaccident examination of the airplane was conducted on-scene by representatives of the engine and airframe manufacturer and supervised by the FAA. A large amount of soot and thermal by-products were observed on the cylinder #3 exposed rocker arm and surrounding head surfaces. There was a small hole on the top of the right crankcase half near the cylinder #5 base and a similar hole was observed on the left crankcase half near the base of cylinder #4. The through-bolt nut to the top rear crankcase section was missing and its associated washer was located on top of the adjacent oil cooler tank. The through-bolt head had backed off from the inserted position by about one half inch.

The forward section of the oil sump was destroyed by fire. The oil rod was intact and a small amount of dark thick liquid was on the bottom ½ inch of the rod. The oil quick drain valve was found in the closed position and secured to the sump with safety wire. Both the oil cooler and oil filter were intact and exhibited some thermal damage; the oil pressure sending unit was destroyed by fire.

The airplane and engine were retained by the NTSB for further examination.

The SD card from the onboard Garmin G1000 glass panel display was recovered from the airplane and sent to the NTSB Recorder's Laboratory in Washington, DC, for further examination.

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