NTSB Identification: ATL05LA101.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 17, 2005 in Fort Myers, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N646RM
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.

The airplane was climbing after takeoff, and the pilot heard and felt a change in the engine operation. He stated the oil pressure gauge and the oil temperature gauge showed normal readings, but the engine rpm spiked briefly beyond redline then returned to a lower rpm. The pilot headed towards the nearest airport. He stated then "something gave in the engine, and it began to vibrate the yoke. A little further, and oil began to splatter on the windshield." The propeller continued to turn, the airplane could not maintain altitude, and the pilot glided it until it descended into trees and a swamp. Examination of the engine revealed cracks and a hole in the top of the crankcase. The No. 5 connecting rod cap was separated, pieces of the rod cap and bolts were in the engine sump, and the fracture features of the rod cap and bolts were obscured by mechanical damage. No evidence of oil leakage from any engine seals or at the propeller hub was observed. The connecting rods had been replaced during an engine major overhaul completed July 13, 1992. A new McCauley propeller was installed in accordance with Supplemental Type Certificate SA433CH on April 14, 2005, and an annual inspection was completed on the same date at an engine time since major overhaul of 1141.2 hours. The engine had accumulated 9 hours since the annual inspection, and the pilot reported there were no engine anomalies during those flights.

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

A loss of engine power due to the connecting rod cap separation for undetermined reasons. Related factors were trees and the swampy terrain condition.

Full narrative available

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