Saturday, March 30, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Partial): Cessna 172S Skyhawk, N294ME, accident occurred January 29, 2018 in Babylon, Suffolk County, New York

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Babylon, NY
Accident Number: ERA18LA074
Date & Time: 01/29/2018, 0928 EST
Registration: N294ME
Aircraft: CESSNA 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 3 None

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 


The flight instructor reported that, during a local instructional flight along a coastline, he reduced engine power to idle when the airplane was at an altitude of about 2,000 ft above ground level and had the student pilot perform the checklist for an in-flight engine failure. As part of the simulated event, the student also performed the checklist for "unable to start engine." As the airplane reached an altitude of about 1,000 ft above ground level, the student increased engine power to recover, at which time the engine produced about 1,500 rpm and then returned to idle, even as the throttle was further increased. The flight instructor immediately took the flight controls. He turned off the magnetos and the engine. He then turned on the electric fuel pump for 2 seconds and attempted to restart the engine, but the engine produced only partial power. The flight instructor then performed a forced landing to a clearing on a beach. During the landing roll, the airplane's nosewheel sunk into the sand, and the airplane nosed over. The airplane's right wing and fuselage sustained substantial damage.

Postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal evidence of any preexisting mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. A postaccident test run of the airplane's engine revealed that it started and operated normally at various power settings up to 2,000 rpm. Thus, given the available evidence, the reason(s) for the partial loss of engine power could not be determined.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The partial loss of engine power after a simulated engine failure for reasons that could not be determined because a postaccident examination and an engine test run did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.


Environmental issues
Soft surface - Contributed to outcome

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

On January 29, 2018, about 0930 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172S, N294ME, was substantially damaged during an emergency landing on the Robert Moses State Park Beach in Babylon, New York. The flight instructor, student pilot, and passenger were not injured. The airplane was registered to Hickory Lane Corp. and operated by 30 Aviation Inc., doing business as Nassau Flyers under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, about 0835.

According to the flight instructor, the student pilot completed multiple ground reference maneuvers, and as they were headed back to FRG, the student requested to practice an emergency procedure. The flight instructor agreed, climbed the airplane to about 2,000 ft above ground level (agl), reduced engine power to idle, and had the student perform the "engine failure in-flight checklist." Subsequently, the student continued the simulated event by proceeding to the "unable to start engine checklist," and as part of the checklist, moved the mixture control knob about 75% toward idle-cut-off. The flight instructor stopped the student pilot from moving the control knob any further and returned the mixture to full rich, and the student continued the checklist, with the flight instructor making sure the student did not actually "touch anything" further.

About 1,000 ft agl, the flight instructor told the student to increase power, and as he did so, the engine produced about 1,500 rpm and then returned to idle, as the throttle was increased further. The flight instructor immediately took the flight controls, pulled throttle to idle, then increased the throttle to full power, which produced the same engine performance. Subsequently, he "turned the magnetos off and pulled the mixture [to idle-cut-off] to turn the engine off." He then turned the electric fuel pump on for two seconds, "started the engine again," and "applied the throttle to the same effect."

About 700 to 800 ft agl, the flight instructor identified a clearing on the beach, extended the flaps to 30° and touched down about 62 knots. He reported that the airplane slowed much faster than he had anticipated, and he gently applied brakes to slow the airplane down further. As he continued to apply the brakes, the nose wheel sunk into the sand and the airplane nosed over.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector's examination of the airplane revealed that the fuselage and right wing sustained substantial damage during the landing. The inspector examined the wreckage at the accident site and found that the fuel-shutoff-valve (SOV) located between the two pilot seats, near the floorboards, was partially pulled toward the closed position. After the airplane was recovered, an engine test run was performed. The FAA inspector observed the engine start and run continuously at multiple power settings up to 2,000 rpm without interruption, with the engine utilizing the airplane's own battery and fuel system. During the test, the fuel SOV was moved to the position it was found at the accident site (partially pulled toward closed) and the engine also produced 2,000 rpm with no abnormalities observed. The inspector added that no abnormalities were observed during a functional on/closed test of the fuel SOV.

During a postaccident interview, the FAA inspector asked the student pilot if he had moved the fuel SOV during flight, and the student reported that he had not. The flight instructor also could not recall if anyone had moved the fuel SOV during flight, or during the evacuation. The flight instructor also reported that he and student pilot did not discuss simulated engine failure procedures during preflight.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the four-seat, high-wing, single-engine airplane was manufactured in 2000. It was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360-L2A, 180-horsepower engine. The engine had accumulated 1,420 hours, and the airframe had accumulated 6,097 hours. The most recent annual and 100-hour inspection was performed on December 22, 2017.

A Nassau Flyers Cessna 172S normal and emergency procedures checklist was found in the airplane. The following emergency procedure actions were highlighted in red on the checklist:


Pitch (Best Glide) 68 KIAS
Landing Site Select
Fuel Shutoff Valve ON
Fuel Selector Both
Aux Fuel Pump ON
Mixture Full Rich
Magnetos Both/ Start

The weather conditions reported at FRG airport, about 9 miles northwest of the accident site, included wind from 050° at 11 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 4°C, and dew point -2°C. 

History of Flight

Simulated/training event
Loss of engine power (partial) (Defining event)

Landing-landing roll
Nose over/nose down
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 26, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/20/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/10/2017
Flight Time:  541 hours (Total, all aircraft), 273 hours (Total, this make and model), 460 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 98 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 26 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 16, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time: (Estimated) 4 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N294ME
Model/Series: 172 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2000
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 172S8552
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/22/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2550 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6097 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:  Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: IO-360-L2A
Registered Owner: HICKORY LANE CORP
Rated Power:  180 hp
Operator: 30 Aviation Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: Nassau Flyers
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFRG, 80 ft msl
Observation Time: 0953 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 315°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 4°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots, 50°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.21 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: FARMINGDALE, NY (FRG)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: FARMINGDALE, NY (FRG)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 0835 EST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  40.621389, -73.273333 (est)

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