NTSB Identification: ATL96LA128.
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Accident occurred Thursday, September 19, 1996 in GEORGETOWN, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/28/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N9VM
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

While climbing through about 2,500 feet after takeoff, the engine lost power. The pilot was forced to land on unsuitable terrain, which resulted in a collision with a tree. After the accident, the engine's left magneto was found jammed due to a failed impulse coupling. The jammed magneto broke the idler gear and the crankshaft gear with which it meshed, precipitating a total loss of power. The impulse coupling was the subject of an airworthiness directive that required recurring inspections at each 500 hours of engine operation. Records showed that the last inspection of the magneto was in November 1988, 432 hours after the engine had been overhauled. The last annual inspection was in October 1995, with a tachometer time of 2,905 hours since overhaul. At the time of the accident, the engine had a total flight time of 3,109 hours recorded since overhaul.

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

failure of maintenance personnel to comply with an airworthiness directive, requiring periodic magneto inspections; inadequate annual inspection of the airplane by (other) maintenance personnel; and subsequent failure of the impulse coupling in the left magneto, which resulted in a jammed magneto, failure of the idler and crankshaft gears, and subsequent loss of engine power. The lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing was a related factor.

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