NTSB Identification: ERA11LA150
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 17, 2011 in Stetson, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/23/2012
Aircraft: FLAGLOR TOM KOLB AIRCRAFT MK III, registration: N213
Injuries: 1 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 pilot was in cruise flight at 1,500 feet over a heavily wooded area when the airplane began to vibrate violently before sustaining a total loss of engine power. The pilot made a forced landing and the airplane collided with trees and the ground. The pilot stated that, about 30 flight hours before this accident, the airplane experienced a similar severe vibration in flight. He shut down the engine and made a successful forced landing to a nearby airport. Examination of the airplane revealed that a triangle-shaped aluminum plate on the rear of the propeller hub had cracked. The pilot installed a new propeller hub and the original propeller blades about 7 months before the accident and began flying again without any vibrations. The total hours on the propeller blades are unknown.

A postaccident examination at the accident site revealed that both carburetors had separated from the engine assembly and were hanging by their fuel lines and throttle cables. One composite propeller blade was delaminated with a large section missing. The remaining two propeller blades appeared to be intact without comparable or crash-related damage. The carburetor detachment likely caused the final engine failure and this separation was likely a consequence of the severe vibration.

Metallurgical examination of the propeller blades identified that separation of a portion of blade No. 1 initiated as a transverse fracture, originating near the trailing edge of the blade. The transverse fracture was progressive in nature, with the crack propagating in some combination of fatigue and/or stress rupture under continually applied loads. Blade No. 2 also exhibited a pattern of parallel transverse cracks on its aft side. Blade No. 3 was also visibly damaged, with significant delamination or disbonding of the woven carbon-fiber composite skin from the forward side of the blade, along with delamination at the trailing edge. Blade No. 3 also exhibited a pattern of parallel transverse cracks on its aft side. This damage was consistent with bending of the tip of the blade forward under air loading.

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

The in-flight failure of the No. 1 composite propeller blade due to fatigue, which resulted in a violent vibration, loss of engine power, and a subsequent forced landing to unsuitable terrain.

Full narrative available

Index for Feb2011 | Index of months