NTSB Identification: CEN10LA282
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 30, 2010 in Las Cruces, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N2723U
Injuries: 1 Serious,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 engine lost partial power shortly after takeoff. During the forced landing, the airplane went through a chain link fence before coming to rest against a sand berm and mesquite tree. There were other documented reports of partial power failures involving this airplane. The engine was partially disassembled and examined. The number 5 cylinder exhaust valve was found to be stuck open. A clear, unidentified liquid was found in the fuel line. A significant amount of water was drained from the fuel system, mostly from the left tank. It was reported that the airplane had sat outside during the winter in several rain storms. Maintenance personnel reported a considerable amount of water was drained from the right fuel tank during the most recent annual inspection.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of water contamination in the fuel, and the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection. Contributing the accident was an inoperative number 5 cylinder exhaust valve.

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