NTSB Identification: BFO96LA038.
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Accident occurred Sunday, January 14, 1996 in HURLOCK, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Ercoupe (Eng & Research Corp.) 415-C, registration: N87424
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that the airplane was in cruise flight at 1,500 feet MSL when the propeller separated from the airplane. The pilot made an emergency landing in a snow covered field. Upon touchdown in 18-inch deep snow, the nose wheel collapsed. The separated propeller assembly and the attached forward portion of the crankshaft flange were located, and examined in the NTSB laboratory. Postaccident inspection of the crankshaft revealed a spiral crack that intersected the fracture at the bottom corner of a keyway. Further examination showed that the cracks were filled with a iron nitride white layer. Maintenance records indicated that the main journals and pins of the crankshaft were ground, nitrided, inspected, and returned for service, in October, 1994.

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

inadequate inspection by maintenance personnel which failed to detect a fatigue crack, and resulted in an in-flight crankshaft fracture and propeller assembly separation. A related factor was the deep snow encountered during the subsequent forced landing.

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