NTSB Identification: CHI05CA074.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 26, 2005 in Fargo, ND
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/08/2005
Aircraft: Cessna 177RG, registration: N1623H
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The aircraft experienced a total loss of engine power during initial climb after takeoff. The accident flight was the first flight after the oil filter had been replaced. The pilot reported that the engine began losing power about two miles south of the departure airport. He stated that the engine seized during a turn back toward the airport. He reported that the airplane did not have enough altitude remaining to glide to a runway and that he performed a downwind landing to a nearby road because there was "no place to go into the wind, even knowing I had a 29 [knot] tailwind." The pilot reported that the airplane impacted a street light and vehicle during the forced landing to a residential area. The pilot estimated that less than 30-seconds transpired between the loss of engine power and the impact with terrain. Post accident inspection of the engine revealed that the number four connecting rod had separated and protruded through the top of the engine case. An oil film covered the oil filter, the accessory case below the oil filter, and the bottom of the fuselage. The oil system was pressurized and a leak was noted around the base of the oil filter canister. Further inspection revealed that the oil filter canister bolt was not adequately torqued and its retaining safety-wire was incorrectly installed. Additionally, the canister base gasket was incorrectly installed which allowed oil to leak out from the canister base. No leaks were noted after the gasket was repositioned and the canister was reinstalled. The pilot reported that the oil-pressure was "in green" during an engine run-up check completed prior to takeoff. Several individuals reported there was an approximately 4-foot diameter oil spill in the ramp area used by the accident airplane for start-up and pre-takeoff operations.

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

The mechanic's improper installation of the oil filter canister base gasket, which resulted in an oil leak and the separation of the connecting rod due to oil starvation. Factors to the accident were the unsuitable terrain encountered during the forced landing, the tailwind condition, the light pole, and the vehicle.

Full narrative available

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