NTSB Identification: CHI05LA190.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 15, 2005 in White Cloud, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2006
Aircraft: Mooney M20M, registration: N355RZ
Injuries: 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 airplane sustained substantial damage on impact with terrain during a forced landing following an in-flight loss of engine power. The pilot's accident report stated, "Climbing through 9,000 feet I noticed that my climb performance had been reduced substantially. I then noticed that I had a serious problem. The [oil] temp was then red-lined, the oil pressure low, and power drastically reduced. At that point I disconnected the autopilot and lowered the nose to avoid a stall and attempt to cool the engine. I contacted [Minneapolis] center and reported the problem. The controller asked if I was declaring an emergency, and I said yes, and requested vectors to the closest airport. At this point I could see oil coming down the left window. ... I had a scattered layer around 3-4,000 feet that I descended through. I got visual on the airport. At that point airspeed and altitude [were] minimal and the power reduced to almost nothing. ... I aimed the aircraft towards mid field and figured if I put the aircraft down without stalling or hitting trees I would walk away. ... I put the aircraft down on the uneven terrain at the south end of [the runway]." An examination of the wreckage revealed a disconnected oil line. The disconnected oil line went to the cylinder valve guides for cooling. The other end of the line was connected at the outlet of the oil cooler from where the oil is supplied to the valve guides. A representative of the fixed base operator stated that three cylinders were removed and replaced. During the engine's operational check, no oil leaks were noted. The technician that performed the work also inspected the work. The representative stated that oil would begin to flow from the disconnected line once the engine warmed up and the vernatherm opened. The representative stated that human factors were also involved, as there was pressure to get the work done as the owner requested. The representative stated that secondary inspectors will be used whenever possible and that the entire maintenance staff will be trained on human factors.

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

A loss of engine power during cruise flight due to the mechanic's improper maintenance, the disconnected oil line, the oil leak from the disconnected line, and the unsuitable terrain the pilot encountered during the forced landing. Factors were the outside pressures on the maintenance personnel and the uneven terrain.

Full narrative available

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