NTSB Identification: IAD05LA064.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 13, 2005 in Dover, DE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N55165
Injuries: 3 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.

On a night departure from an airport, the airplane's engine experienced a total loss of power. The pilot attempted to regain engine power without result. The pilot subsequently performed a forced landing to a field substantially damaging the airplane. No preimpact mechanical malfunctions of the engine were noted; however, examination of the exhaust system revealed that a portion of the internal baffle in the muffler assembly had separated from the surrounding structure, and was free to move around inside the muffler. Further examination of the exhaust system showed that the tailpipe was equipped with an arch shaped standoff assembly that extended from the inboard end of the tailpipe and protruded into the muffler to prevent a loose exhaust baffle from covering the inboard end of the tailpipe. Examination of the alignment holes on both the tailpipe and muffler revealed that when both holes were aligned, the standoff assembly did not protrude far enough into the muffler to keep the loose portion of the baffle from blocking the tailpipe. The manufacturer recommended that the entire exhaust system, including heat exchange shroud, muffler, muffler baffles, stacks and all exhaust connections be rigidly inspected at each 100-hour inspection and that the possibility of exhaust system failure increases with use. Additionally, it was recommended that all airplanes be fitted with a new muffler at or near the 1,000 hour period of which the muffler had been used. The airplane was manufactured in 1973 and an overhauled tail pipe was installed at 4510.77 total hours of operation. The airplane's most recent 100 hour inspection was completed on March 31, 2005. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 5574 total hours of operation. At the time of the accident, the airplane had operated 76.14 hours since its last inspection.

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

The separated baffle which blocked the tailpipe resulting in a subsequent total loss of engine power.

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