NTSB Identification: CHI07LA179.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 23, 2007 in Columbia, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/30/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N1768T
Injuries: 2 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 impacted terrain following a loss of engine power during a maintenance test flight with a company certified flight instructor (CFI) and mechanic. Earlier on the day of the accident, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power during an instructional flight. The student pilot switched fuel tanks, engine power was regained, and the airplane landed without further incident. Subsequent maintenance inspection revealed no fuel flow when fuel was drained through the gascolator with the right fuel tank selected. The mechanic inspected the airplane and called the CFI to perform a maintenance test flight in the airport traffic pattern. No anomalies were noted during the engine runup for the maintenance test flight. The test flight was planned to be conducted in the airport traffic pattern at traffic pattern altitude. The CFI reported that on the turn to base leg, she adjusted the throttle to 1,700 rpm, and the engine started to sputter and ran rough at an engine speed of 500 rpm. The CFI reported running the engine-out checklist by memory, but it did not accomplish an engine restart. The CFI decided the best option was to land in a cornfield to avoid trees and power lines. A postaccident investigation revealed that there were no detents evident in the fuel selector and that it was difficult to turn. The fuel selector did not possess safety wire on its mounting screws. The carburetor drain valve exhibited a brown colored material consistent with rust. The carburetor float had a green line around the float and rested above its minimum level. The green line was consistent with a reaction of the bronze float with water. The accelerator pump check valve was stuck and material consistent with water corrosion was noted within the accelerator pump. The bottom portion of the carburetor bowl contained a material consistent with rust and shiny gouges consistent with recent tooling marks adjacent to the area possessing rust at the bottom of the bowl. The airplane was operated without shoulder harnesses while providing rental/flight instruction.

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

The certified flight instructor's (CFI's) inadequate preflight planning/preparation of a test altitude that would afford an on airport landing in the event of engine power loss. Additional causes were the CFI not flying a traffic pattern that would allow for an on airport landing should an engine power loss occur, the partial fuel system obstruction, and the inadequate maintenance by the mechanic. Contributing factors were the improperly serviced fuel selector and the low altitude at the time of engine power loss.

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