NTSB Identification: LAX04LA228.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 28, 2004 in Paso Robles, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/28/2004
Aircraft: Wilson Avid Bandit, registration: N55368
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 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 experimental, amateur-built airplane impacted grape vines during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during the takeoff initial climb. According to the pilot, the engine lost power during the descent into the airport after the coolant temperature exceeded redline limits. The pilot successfully restarted the engine prior to landing. He thought it was a fuel system problem and proceeded to examine the entire fuel system. He found no anomalies and test ran the engine twice prior to departing. The pilot noticed no anomalies during the engine run-up and proceeded with the takeoff. Approximately 3-4 minutes after takeoff, the engine's water temperature rose past the red-line limit. The pilot attempted to cool the engine using various methods, to no avail. Shortly thereafter, the engine lost total power. A post-accident examination of the engine revealed the rear cylinder and piston exhibited galling, with material transfer evident between the piston and the cylinder. According to various technical information sources on the Rotax engine in the aircraft application, this engine series is susceptible to cold seizures, which was described as a condition where under certain thermal load situations the pistons expand faster than the cylinder walls. Photographs accompanying this information show scrapes on the pistons and cylinders similar to those taken of the accident engine. Review of the engine manufacturers installation and operations manual revealed warnings that "the engine by design is subject to sudden stoppage," and that it does not conform to aircraft standards.

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

the loss of engine power during takeoff climb due to a cold seizure of the rear cylinder.

Full narrative available

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