On December 30, 1997, at 1100 mountain standard time, a Cessna 310R, N87358, was substantially damaged following landing short of runway 31 at Grants-Milan Municipal Airport, Grants, New Mexico. The private pilot and two of the passengers were not injured; however, a third passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was owned and being operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight which originated from Los Lunas, New Mexico, approximately 30 minutes before the accident. No flight plan was filed.

According to the pilot, he serviced the right engine with oil prior to departure. While in flight, a passenger reported seeing oil coming from the rear of the right engine. The pilot noticed a rise in oil temperature and a drop in oil pressure. He feathered the right engine; however, the aircraft "was not holding altitude and began to descend at approximately 150 feet per minute. . .and [he] decided to bring the right engine back on line."

When the aircraft was approximately 5 minutes from the Grants-Milan Municipal Airport, the pilot "lower[ed] the landing gear and feather[ed] the propeller, and suddenly the right engine stopped, leaving [him] approximately 100 feet short of the approach end of the runway. [The] aircraft appeared to stall approximately 15 feet above the ground and then dropped suddenly," impacting the ground. It is unknown at what altitude above the ground the pilot lowered the landing gear.

According to the aircraft operating manual, the procedures for a single-engine approach and landing are mixture full rich, propeller full forward, an approach speed of 97 knots, and landing gear down only within glide distance of the field. According to the maximum glide chart, with flaps up, landing gear up, and the propeller of the failed engine feathered, the aircraft should glide 1 nautical mile per 1000 feet.

According to the performance chart for single-engine service ceiling at a maximum gross weight of 5,500 lbs., the aircraft was capable of maintaining an altitude of 7,975 feet, given the temperature of 21 degrees F., the altimeter setting of 30.26 Hg., and an indicated airspeed of 100 knots. The manual does not provide a chart indicating the altitude capability of single-engine operation with the gear down.

Postaccident examination of the aircraft by an FAA inspector revealed that the oil cap was not properly secured on the right engine. As a result, oil was being siphoned from the oil filler tube.

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