NTSB Identification: LAX98LA046.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, November 26, 1997 in SAIPAN, Mali
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N1256H
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.

The pilot was conducting a maintenance test flight in the traffic pattern when the engine lost power and he made a forced landing. Two days before the accident test flight, a company pilot made an unscheduled landing due to a rough running engine with a vibration. A review of the aircraft inspection discrepancy logs and maintenance records revealed that maintenance personnel removed and cleaned the fuel injector nozzles, the servo unit screen was flushed, and a compression check was completed. Four engine ground runs were conducted with a rough running engine and vibrations noted in the first three runs. The fourth ground run did not note any anomalies. Review of the records found two operator's inspection discrepancy records for this aircraft. Examination of the documents disclosed that they are essentially the same, except for item number 3. On the first document the item 3 discrepancy stated that the No. 5 cylinder fuel injector nozzle needed replacement, with a further note that none were in stock. On the second document item 3 said that the fuel injector nozzles were cleaned and reinstalled, and that a ground run-up was normal. The company dispatcher instructed the pilot to perform the test flight as the airplane was scheduled to return to service the same day. The pilot performed the ground checklist, which included checking the magnetos and propeller. He did not note any discrepancies. After takeoff no engine performance malfunctions were noted; however, while on base leg, the aircraft engine banged three times and then parts flew through the engine cowling. The cowling separated and struck the empennage. The pilot subsequently ditched the aircraft in the ocean, where it sank and was not recovered.

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

The loss of engine power for undetermined reasons that resulted in the pilot ditching the aircraft into the ocean.

Full narrative available

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