NTSB Identification: CHI02LA099.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 31, 2002 in South St. Paul, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-46-310P, registration: N9103Q
Injuries: 3 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 airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing to a river after it experienced a complete loss of engine power after an engine fire in cruise flight. The pilot reported the preflight and takeoff were normal. He leveled off about 1,100 feet agl in order to stay below Class B airspace. He activated the standby vacuum pump and noted that it was operating properly. About 1-2 seconds after activating the vacuum pump, the alternator annunciator light came on. The two passengers smelled something burning about 2 seconds after the alternator annunciator light came on. The pilot reported that about 2 seconds later the engine lost power abruptly, without any roughness or surging. He decided to make a forced landing to the river. The examination of the engine compartment revealed an area of heat and fire damage near the top of the engine. Bare wires on the P-leads were found in the area of the heat damage. When the magnetos were checked, it was observed that the P-leads were grounded and no electrical current was getting to the magnetos. Further examination of the engine revealed that a B-nut fuel line connector on the fuel line that came from the engine driven fuel pump through the engine baffling was loose. The loose fuel connector was adjacent to the burned area where the P-leads were burned through. The engine logbook indicated that prior to the accident flight, the oil and oil filter had been changed. The standby vacuum pump was also replaced. The fuel line that was found with the loose B-nut was located directly above the standby vacuum pump.

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

A loss of engine power due to an electrical short of the P-lead, and loose fuel line connection as a result of improper maintenance.

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