Saturday, March 16, 2019

Uncontained Engine Failure: MXR Technologies MXS, N540JH, accident occurred March 25, 2018 at Kalt Ranch Airport (9TE5), Fulton, Aransas County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

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


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

 
http://registry.faa.gov/N540JH


Location: Fulton, TX
Accident Number: CEN18LA127
Date & Time: 03/25/2018, 1645 CDT
Registration: N540JH
Aircraft: MX AIRCRAFT LLC MXS
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Uncontained engine failure
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

The airline transport pilot reported that, while in cruise flight at 11,500 ft above mean sea level, the engine began to vibrate. About 30 seconds later, he heard a “bang.” A piece of the engine had penetrated the engine cowling, and engine oil covered the outside of the canopy, restricting the pilot's vision. He stated that the engine lost total power and that an extreme vibration occurred until he slowed the airplane and the propeller stopped rotating. The pilot chose to fly to an airport that he identified on his GPS and performed a forced landing at that airport, during which the left main gear separated from the fuselage after impact with a piece of debris on the runway. The airplane slid on its belly before veering off the runway and coming to rest in the grass. It was later determined the pilot had landed at an abandoned airport.

An initial examination of the engine, which was a modified version of a six-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-540 engine, revealed a hole in the top of the crankcase just behind the oil filler cap at the No. 5 cylinder. The crankshaft was visible through the hole in the top of the engine, and a broken counterweight was noted. Metallurgical examination of the crankshaft revealed that it had fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 rod journals. The fracture was the result of a fatigue crack that initiated from the aft radius of the No. 5 rod journal. The surface of the No. 5 rod journal and the radii contained circumferential gouges, which suggest that the bearing for this rod journal had shifted or was thinning down; the gouges were the stress raisers that led to the fatigue cracking. Shifting or malfunction of the bearing likely interfered with the lubrication of the rod journal surface and their radii, which likely caused the eventual overheating of the rod journal.

The property that once was the airport belonged to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Although the property was no longer maintained as an airport, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had not contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to update the status of the airport. Appropriate steps were taken to decommission the airport after this accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A total loss of engine power due to the fatigue failure of the crankshaft, which resulted in the pilot’s forced landing to an abandoned airport and the airplane’s subsequent impact with debris on the runway.

Findings

Aircraft
Recip engine power section - Fatigue/wear/corrosion (Cause)

Environmental issues
Debris/dirt/foreign object - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On March 25, 2018, about 1645 central daylight time, a MX Aircraft LLC, MXS airplane, N540JH, collided with an object during a forced landing on an abandoned runway. The pilot was not injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered and operated by Rob Holland Ultimate Airshows LLC under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operating on a flight plan. The flight originated from NAS Kingsville (NQI) Kingsville, Texas, about 1620, with an intended destination of The Red River Airport (0R7), Coushatta, Louisiana. The abandoned runway was identified as the Kalt Ranch Airport (9TE5), Fulton, Texas.

The pilot reported that while in cruise flight at 11,500 ft above mean seal level (msl) the engine began to vibrate. About 30 seconds later he heard a "bang." He reported the engine lost all power and there was an extreme vibration until he slowed the airplane and the propeller stopped rotating. A piece of the engine penetrated the engine cowling and engine oil covered the outside of the canopy restricting the pilot's vision.

The pilot located 9TE5 on his GPS and maneuvered the airplane to stay close to the airport. The pilot first saw the runway at an altitude of about 700 ft msl after he descended below the cloud layer at which time, he was committed to land with a 25-knot tailwind. The airplane touched down about one-third the way down the runway. The pilot did not see a large piece of debris on the runway due to the oil on the canopy. The left main landing gear separated from the fuselage, when it contacted the debris. The airplane slid on its belly before veering off the runway into the grass. The debris was identified as a piece of a building roof, that had been blown onto the airport during Hurricane Harvey.

The engine was a modified version of a six-cylinder Lycoming AEIO-540 engine. An examination of the engine revealed a hole in the top of the crankcase just behind the oil filler cap at the No. 5 cylinder. All four engine mounts were torn from the engine and the only structure holding the engine in place was the cowling. The engine was removed and examined further. The crankshaft was visible through the hole in the top of the engine and a broken counterweight was noted. The accessory section of the engine was pulled away and angled to one side. The aft top section of the oil sump was fractured, and only residual oil remained in the sump. The left magneto had separated from the engine. The oil screen and oil pump were clear of debris. The crankshaft gear was damaged, and all other accessory gears were undamaged. The top cylinders exhibited normal combustion signatures. It was noted that the crankshaft was broken, and one counterweight was missing.

The broken crankshaft was removed from the engine and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Metallurgical Laboratory for examination. The examination revealed the crankshaft fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 rod journals. The forward fracture surface contained crack arrest marks indicative of fatigue cracking that emanated from the aft radius of the No. 5 rod journal. The fatigue crack propagation was through about 90% of the cheek cross section. The remaining fracture exhibited features consistent with overstress separation. The surface of the No. 5 rod journal and both radii for this journal exhibited black-blue heat tint consistent with exposure to heat and contained circumferential gouges. All the lubrication ports were free of debris.

A connecting rod which was fractured at the arm, remained attached to the No. 6 rod journal. The arm portion in the area of the fracture showed evidence of elongation deformation. One of the two counterweight assemblies fractured from the cheek. An ear portion extends out of the cheek and it serves as an attachment point for the counterweight assembly. The counterweight separated at the ear portion. The fracture surfaces on the connecting rod arm and the attachment ear for the counterweight assembly exhibited signatures consistent with an overstress separation.

During the investigation it was determined that the airport was abandoned and that the property, now part of the Goose Island State Park, belonged to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Although the property was no longer maintained as an airport, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had not contacted the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the status of the airport. The Assistant Superintendent of the park was contacted by the NTSB investigator-in-charge regarding the status of the airport. The assistant supervisor promptly took the steps to have the airport decommissioned.

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise
Uncontained engine failure (Defining event)
Loss of engine power (total)

Landing-landing roll
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Runway excursion

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial; Flight Engineer
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/30/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/29/2017
Flight Time:   14993 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1850 hours (Total, this make and model), 14823 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 16 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 13 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: MX AIRCRAFT LLC
Registration: N540JH
Model/Series: MXS NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 14
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/04/2018, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2100 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 13 Hours
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1706 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: AEIO-540
Registered Owner: ROB HOLLAND ULTIMATE AIRSHOWS LLC
Rated Power: 359 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RKP, 24 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1753 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 220°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  6 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1300 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 16 knots / 22 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 150°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Haze
Departure Point: KINGSVILLE, TX (NQI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: COUSHATTA, LA (0R7)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1620 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Kalt Ranch Airport (9TE5)
Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 15 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Holes; Rough
Runway Used: 30
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1650 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 28.154167, -96.975833 (est)

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