On September 6, 1993, at 1424 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172G, N4143L, ditched in the Pacific Ocean about 100 yards off shore from Avalon on Catalina Island, California. The ditching was precipitated by a partial loss of engine power. The aircraft was operated by Rick Lucia Aviation of Ramona, California, and was rented by the pilot for a cross country personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the operation. The aircraft incurred substantial damage. The certificated private pilot, and his two passengers were not injured. The flight originated at Ramona on the day of the mishap at 1330 hours as a personal cross country flight to Catalina Island, and return.

According to the pilot, the aircraft was in cruise flight about 10 miles from the island, when a puff of smoke emanated from the engine cowling and the engine began to run rough. The pilot stated the aircraft could not maintain altitude and he ditched in the ocean in Avalon Bay about 100 yards off shore. Boats rescued the occupants and the aircraft sank in about 30 feet of water.

After recovery, the aircraft and engine were examined by a Safety Board investigator at Long Beach, California, on September 14, 1994. During the examination, the engine was disassembled for detailed internal review.

The numbers one and two connecting rods were found fractured, with heat discoloration observed on the number two bearing. Heavy fretting was found on the number two bearing surface and the associated crankcase bearing journal support. The numbers three and four cam shaft journals were observed to be visibly out of round, with heavy wear noted.

Examination of the engine log book and the maintenance records from the operator, revealed that the cylinder base seal for the number two cylinder was replaced on May 25, 1993, about 55 hours prior to the accident. According to Cruise Air Aviation, work order 4167 and attached discrepancy sheet, the number two cylinder base seal 'O' ring was replaced by the aircraft owner and signed off by a company inspector. Cruise Air Aviation is the holder of a FAA Repair Station authorization, number LF3R655L. The referenced maintenance records and work orders are attached to this report.

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