NTSB Identification: SEA02FA097.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 09, 2002 in Independence, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/24/2002
Aircraft: Lewis Nieuport 11, registration: N132DC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
About 20 minutes into the experimental aircraft's first flight after the completion of its construction, the Volkswagen 1835 engine slowly began to lose power. Immediately after the pilot discovered he had a problem with the engine, he turned toward the approach end of the field he had departed from in hopes of making a precautionary landing if necessary. As he headed back toward the airport, the aircraft continued to lose power, and it became apparent that he would not be able to stretch the glide far enough to land on the paved runway. Because the terrain between him and the runway was not suitable for landing and was crossed by power lines, and because the berm that ran along the side of the runway made it unsafe to land perpendicular to the runway, the pilot decided he would try to land parallel to the runway in a mowed grass area adjacent to it. Although he was able to stretch the glide to an extent that allowed him to reach the airport boundary, the aircraft had lost so much altitude that when he attempted to make the turn to parallel the runway, the aircraft's right wing tip impacted the terrain. A post-accident inspection of the engine determined that the distributor position locking clamp bolt had not been retightened after a pre-installation engine test run. The lose distributor then slowly rotated while the aircraft was airborne, resulting in a slow but steady loss of power.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The partial loss of engine power in maneuvering flight due to the rotation of the ignition distributor as a result of a failure to tighten the distributor positioning clamp after the last engine timing adjustment. Factors include an inadequate maintenance activity, no suitable landing terrain below the location where the loss of power occurred, and power lines along the emergency descent flight path. Full narrative available
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