NTSB Identification: MIA97LA243.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 13, 1997 in OXFORD, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/31/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-32RT-300, registration: N9385C
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.

During cruise flight, the pilot felt a vibration, which continued. Subsequently, oil began covering the windshield, and the engine lost power. The flight was vectored toward a nearby airport, but the pilot did not communicate his intentions of a forced landing over the correct UNICOM frequency. Due to an airplane ahead, he landed hard on the displaced portion of the runway. Several holes were noted in the crankcase near the Nos. 1 and 4 cylinders. Examination of the engine revealed that the connecting rods for the Nos. 1 and 4 cylinders had failed. Metallurgical examination of the failed components revealed high stress low cycle fatigue on the No. 4 rod. Also, galling was noted in critical areas on the Nos. 1, 2, and 4 connecting rods and/or caps. A service bulletin indicated that galling in critical areas could cause failure of connecting rods, and galling could occur as a result of high loading such as during engine overspeed or operation with excessive manifold pressure. The engine had been overhauled by the manufacturer and had accumulated about 1,252 hours.

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

fatigue failure of the No.4 connecting rod in an area where galling had occurred, which resulted in loss of engine power and a forced landing. Related factors were: the pilot's lack of communication by failing to select the proper UNICOM frequency; and his failure or inability to flare the airplane during the forced landing, while avoiding another airplane that was landing on the same runway.

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