NTSB Identification: LAX94FA308.
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Accident occurred Sunday, August 07, 1994 in SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-200, registration: N6959J
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A FEW MINUTES AFTER TAKEOFF, WITNESSES REPORTED SEEING THE AIRCRAFT IN THE NIGHT SKY FLYING BETWEEN 50 AND 100 FEET AGL, WESTBOUND, APPROXIMATELY 3 1/2 MILES FROM THE AIRPORT. THE AIRCRAFT WAS NEXT OBSERVED IN A LEFT DESCENDING TURN OVER THE FREEWAY WITH THE ENGINE MAKING LOUD AND UNUSUAL NOISES. THE AIRCRAFT SUBSEQUENTLY STRUCK A SECTION OF OVERHEAD HIGH-TENSION ELECTRICAL LINES THAT SPANNED THE FREEWAY. THE DRIVER OF A NORTHBOUND VEHICLE REPORTED THAT HIS VEHICLE COLLIDED WITH THE AIRCRAFT AS IT SLID ACROSS THE NORTHBOUND LANES OF TRAFFIC. THE AIRCRAFT CAME TO REST IN THE NORTHBOUND EMERGENCY LANE. AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH, THE ONLY OUTSIDE ILLUMINATION WAS FROM GROUND LIGHTS IN THE CITY. UPON INITIAL INSPECTION, IT WAS NOTED THAT THE ENGINE CASE WAS FRACTURED IN THE AREA OF THE NO. 4 CYLINDER. A FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE INTERNAL COMPONENTS REVEALED THAT THE NO. 4 ROD AND END CAP HAD SEPARATED FROM THE CRANKSHAFT. METALLURGICAL EXAMINATION OF THE FAILED COMPONENTS TO DETERMINE THE FAILURE MODE WAS UNSUCCESSFUL DUE TO DAMAGE SUSTAINED ON THE FRACTURE FACES.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the failure of the No. 4 cylinder connecting rod for undetermined reasons. The dark night lighting conditions, which hampered the ability of the pilots to detect the power lines, was a factor in this accident.

Full narrative available

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