FTW99LA178
FTW99LA178

On July 1, 1999, at 2040 central daylight time, a Piper PA-24-260 airplane, N5788, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following a complete loss of engine power while executing a VFR approach to the West Houston Airport near Houston, Texas. The commercial pilot, who was one of four partners who owned the airplane, and her three passengers were not injured. Dusk visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from the New Braunfels Municipal Airport, New Braunfels, Texas, at 1950.

According to the pilot and a fuel receipt, the airplane was "topped off" with 18 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel at New Braunfels. Subsequently, the airplane departed New Braunfels for Houston.

The 357-hour pilot reported that the airplane was on a VFR approach to runway 15 at the West Houston Airport. The airplane was on a left downwind leg, level at 1,100 feet agl, and abeam the runway numbers when she extended the landing gear. Simultaneously she heard a "loud bang" and noticed a loss of engine power. The instrument panel lights "flickered," and the illumination in the cockpit failed. The pilot then advanced the throttle and realized that the engine had lost total power. The pilot stated that she trimmed the airplane to attain the best glide speed, but did not verify the airspeed during the ensuing forced landing. She added that the airplane was descending "too fast," and she needed "more trim to relieve back pressure, but decided to muscle it as best [she] could and try not to stall the airplane." Subsequently, the airplane's nose wheel contacted a cement drainage area at the approach end of the runway and collapsed. The left main landing gear penetrated the wing structure, and the airplane slid approximately 250 feet down the runway, coming to a stop upright.

The pilot reported that the following light and weather conditions existed at the time of the accident: dusk light, visibility greater than 10 miles, clear skies, and wind from 150 degrees at 15 knots.

The airplane was equipped with a 260-horsepower Lycoming IO-540-D engine, which was examined and test run at Caulkins Aero, Houston, Texas, under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The spark plugs, magnetos, oil filter, and air filter were examined before the test run and no anomalies were noted. The fuel selector valve "worked free and correct through all of its ranges," and fuel was present in each of the four fuel tanks. The engine was run in the airframe for a total of 28 minutes at various rpm and manifold pressure settings, including the maximum power setting. The engine operated within manufacturer's specifications. For further details reference the enclosed FAA inspector's statement.

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