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N175HL accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 38.096111°N, 92.549444°W
Nearest city Kaiser/Lake Oza, MO
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Tail number N175HL
Accident date 08 Jul 2002
Aircraft type Cessna 175
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 8, 2002, approximately 2130 central daylight time, a Cessna 175, N175HL, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power. The airplane was on climbout, approximately five miles from the airport at 400 feet agl, when the loss of engine power occurred. The flight departed runway 3 (6,497 feet x 100 feet, asphalt) at the Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport (AIZ), Osage Beach, Missouri. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was originating at the time of the accident. The intended destination was the Greater Peoria Regional Airport (PIA), Peoria, Illinois. The pilot and passengers did not report any injuries.

In his written statement, the pilot noted that the airplane's performance shortly after takeoff was "somewhat sluggish and was slow to accelerate up to 100 mph." During the climb, "the plane suffered a catastrophic loss of power." The pilot stated that sufficient power to maintain level flight was not available and that returning to the airport was not possible due to the developing descent rate. The pilot reported that few options existed as forced landing sites. He selected a small hayfield, but was unable to stop prior to the tree line at the edge of the field.

The pilot reported that the run-up prior to the accident flight was completed with no indication of a problem. However, he stated that the evening before he experienced problems shortly after takeoff and returned to the airport where he landed without incident. He contacted a mechanic to look at the airplane. The pilot stated that the mechanic found a "bad spark plug" and an unattached spark plug wire. These items were corrected and the engine was run. The pilot's report stated that we "checked the mag[neto]s and everything appeared to be in good working order and within tolerances." He also noted that a subsequent review of the engine logbooks revealed no entry to indicate that the left magneto had been replaced or overhauled. The pilot reported an entry which indicated the right magneto was overhauled in September 1989. He went on to note that "[the mechanic] stated that replacing the left magneto was strictly 'optional' as it appeared to be operating within tolerances at this time."

In a written statement submitted after the accident, the mechanic noted that the initial examination revealed a non-firing spark plug and an unattached spark plug lead. He reported that these items were corrected and the engine was run. During the engine run, the mechanic noted that the indicated static RPM readings were 200~400 below that specified in the POH, and that RPM readings during several magneto checks were 175~300 below the allowable of 125 rpm's maximum specified in the POH. He went on to state that "I told [the pilot] that the [left] mag[neto] should be replaced or at least repaired."

A post-accident engine examination by the FAA revealed that the left magneto distributor drive gear had malfunctioned and the magneto exhibited an erratic spark distribution.

The Cessna 175 airplane involved in the accident had accumulated 1,665 hours total time. An annual inspection was completed on June 25, 2002, and 5 hours had been flown since then. The Continental GO-300 series engine installed, likewise, had accumulated 1,665 hours total time. The time since overhaul was reported as 340 hours.

On the evening of the accident, sunset was at 2036 cdt, with civil twilight ending at 2107 cdt. The moon set at 1921 cdt. The pilot reported conditions at the scene as clear skies and light, north winds at 5 knots.

At the time of the accident there were five occupants on-board the aircraft. A review of the FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet (No.: 3A17) for the Cessna 175 indicates an approved seating capacity of four persons. 14 CFR 91.107(a)(3) states that "each person on board a U.S.-registered civil aircraft ... must occupy an approved seat or berth with a safety belt and, if installed, shoulder harness, properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff and landing.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's decision to conduct the flight with a known deficiency in the aircraft, a failure by the pilot to execute a precautionary landing due to "sluggish" performance during takeoff, the loss of engine power due to the malfunction of the left magneto, and the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing. Contributing factors were the low ambient light due to the time of day (night), and the tree line at the edge of the field.

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