On January 23, 1999, at 1030 central standard time, a Cessna 180J airplane, N52170, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Granbury, Texas. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and the pilot rated passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane departed a private airstrip a few minutes before the accident.

During interviews, conducted by the investigator-in-charge (IIC), and on the enclosed statements, the pilot and the passenger reported the following information. During the preflight, the fuel tanks were dipped utilizing a fuel stick made by the passenger. The right fuel tank was empty and the left fuel tank contained 17 gallons. The fuel selector was positioned to the "BOTH" position for takeoff and after 7 to 10 minutes of ground run and taxi time, the flight departed on runway 33 for the Granbury Municipal Airport for refueling. After takeoff, the pilot selected the left fuel tank. Approximately 2 to 3 minutes after takeoff, the engine began to "run rough and sputter." The pilot rated passenger switched the fuel selector to the "BOTH" position and pulled the carburetor heat to the "ON" position. The engine power was not restored. The pilot selected the Nassau Bay Airport for an emergency landing. The airspeed decreased as the airplane cleared power lines which span the approach end of runway 34 and the airplane landed "hard" on the runway. The left main gear and strut sheared from the airplane and the airplane came to rest with the left wing and propeller striking the runway. Following the accident, the pilot and acquaintances drained approximately 10 gallons of fuel from the left tank and removed the airplane from the runway. Subsequently, the airplane was transported to a hangar and stored for further examination.

The FAA inspector and the airframe manufacturer representative examined the airplane at the hangar. The airframe representative found that the left main gear box sustained structural damage and that approximately 8 inches of the outboard portion of the left elevator was found separated from the airplane. Flight control continuity was confirmed.

On February 4, 1999, the airplane was examined by the engine manufacturer representative under the surveillance of the IIC. Structural damage was confirmed at the left main landing gear attachment box and fuselage. Continuity of fuel flow through the left and right tank fuel lines, with the fuel selector in all possible positions (left, right, both), was confirmed to the carburetor. Both fuel tank caps were vented, unobstructed, and sealed. Fuel vents, fuel drains, and fuel lines were unobstructed. The fuel filter screen and the carburetor fuel screen were free of debris. The air intake and filter were free of debris. The fuel primer was in and locked.

Engine continuity was confirmed and a differential compression check was performed. The oil screen was free of debris. Both magnetos sparked at all terminals when hand rotated. The magneto switch was operational.

The propeller blades were bent aft at the outboard 6 to 8 inch area. The propeller tips exhibited chordwise scoring.

On March 29, 1999, the carburetor was examined, under the surveillance of a NTSB investigator, at Precision Airmotive Corporation, Everett, Washington. The carburetor (original part number 10-5192) was flow tested using the 10-5192 master carburetor. No fuel flow variations were noted that would prevent operation of the carburetor. The carburetor was disassembled and inspected with no discrepancies noted that would prevent the carburetor from functioning.

A review of the maintenance records by the IIC revealed that the 1975 aircraft was registered to the current owner on November 19, 1991. In November 1996, the Continental engine TSIO-520-M was modified in accordance with P. Ponk STC #SE 4988NM Part C and assigned Ponk STC S/N 2104. The Marvel Schebler MA-4-5 carburetor was modified in accordance with P. Ponk Aviation STC #SE4988NM Part D, and assigned S/N J068902 for use with the modified engine (S/N 2104). The McCauley Propeller D3A34C401/90DFA-2 was installed per aircraft STC SA00468WI. After the modifications, the engine was recorded as model O-470-50.

The last annual inspection was performed on December 9, 1998. Time since that annual inspection was 9.8 hours. At the time of the accident, the total time on the aircraft was 6,304.6 hours, and 245.9 hours on the modified engine.

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