Friday, October 18, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Piper PA-28R-201T, N44903; accident occurred September 07, 2015 in Atmore, Escambia County, Alabama

Photograph of right wing leading edge damage. 

Photograph of engine data plate. 

Photograph of top view of entire engine prior to disassembly. 

Photograph destroyed bearing on crankshaft. 

Photograph of interior damage to engine case.

 Photograph of the number three piston connecting rod damage. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Atmore, AL
Accident Number:  ERA15LA345
Date & Time: 09/07/2015, 1530 CDT
Registration: N44903
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R-201T
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On September 7, 2015, about 1530 central daylight time, a Piper, PA-28R-201T, N44903 was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Atmore, Alabama, about 30 minutes after departure from Foley Municipal Airport (5R4), Foley, Alabama. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was registered to Treehouse Aviation LLC and operated by the pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight that was enroute to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL), Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The pilot reported that after departure from 5R4 at a cruise altitude of 4,500 ft and level, the engine lost oil pressure; about 2 minutes later, the engine started losing power rapidly. The pilot knew he would not be able to make it to an airport, so he elected to make an off airport landing. He declared an emergency with Pensacola approach and searched for a landing area. Several of the fields looked too rough, so he elected to land on a two lane country road that appeared to be clear of vehicles. The engine had completely stopped producing power and the propeller had stopped turning by the time he lined up for final approach. The pilot made an uneventful landing on the road, but during the landing roll out, the airplane struck several roadside mailboxes with the right wing.

Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that during the landing roll out, the airplane right wing struck several mailboxes along the road, which resulted in damage to a 5-foot section of the right wing. The leading edge was compressed and buckled, and a section was split and detached from the wing ribs. Further examination revealed that there was evidence of an in-flight engine failure including a hole in the case, and expelled oil in and around the engine cowling.

The engine was transported to the manufactures facility for disassembly and examination. During the disassembly process, the torque values for the flange nuts and through bolts were checked for their breakaway values. The No. 2 upper through bolt (414 in/lbs), both No. 3 cylinder through bolts (420/483 in/lbs) and the No. 5 through bolts nuts (384/506 in/lbs) were below factory specifications of 590/610 in lbs for breakaway torque. Upon case separation chunks of metal, metal shavings and gouges to the interior of the engine case was discovered. Further examination revealed that the No. 3 connecting rod was separated from the crankshaft, and there were indications the No. 2 main bearings had shifted and there were signs of oil starvation.

Review of maintenance records revealed that the No 3. cylinder had been removed and reinstalled on March 19, 2014, at 113.75 hours of operation prior to the accident. The engine's most recent annual inspection was completed on December 1, 2014. At the time of the annual, the engine had accumulated 1,538.69 hours total time since major overhaul. There were no irregularities noted, and all airworthiness directives (AD) were complied with as noted by the mechanic. On April 27, 2015, at 1,581.79 hours total time since overhaul, the oil was drained and replaced, the air filter was changed, and all twelve spark plugs were replaced. No irregularities were noted during the inspection. At the time of the accident, the engine had accrued 1,614 total hours since major overhaul and had flown about 75 hours since the most recent annual inspection and 32 hours since the most recent oil change.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on October 30, 2014. The pilot reported 1,413.1 flight hours as of the day of the accident.

The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-tricycle-gear airplane was manufactured in 1977. It was powered by a Continental, TSIO-360-FB, 200-hp engine, equipped with a constant-speed, two-blade Hartzell propeller.

Weather at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station (NSE) North Milton, Florida, about 29 nautical miles southeast of the accident site, at 1456, was reported as wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 4,900 ft, temperature 32° C, dewpoint 19° C, altimeter setting 29.94 inches of mercury.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/30/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/16/2014
Flight Time: 1413 hours (Total, all aircraft), 850 hours (Total, this make and model), 22 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N44903
Model/Series: PA 28R-201T 201T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28R-7703341
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/01/2014, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2912 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 75 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3923 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-360-FB
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 200 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: NSE, 199 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 29 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1456 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 160°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4900 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: FOLEY, AL (5R4)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: TUSCALOOSA, AL (TCL)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1450 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 31.016111, -87.446667 (est)

1 comment:

  1. Glad to read the pilot and passenger walked away from this one. Yet another botched cylinder replacement job. Mike Busch has a great youtube channel about airplane ownership and maintenance and goes into detail about the risks of cylinder replacements especially when the engine isn't removed.

    CFII based at KBED