On March 30, 2001, at 1114 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24, N7640P, registered to a private owner, was ditched in the Gulf of Mexico 21 miles west of Cross City, Florida, after a total loss of engine power. The personal flight was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument metrological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The private pilot and passenger received minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from Sarasota International Airport, Sarasota, Florida, at 1000.

According to the pilot, during cruise at 6,000 feet approximately two to three miles off the coast of Florida, a loud bang was heard. Shortly after the loud bang, the airplane started to shake violently, and the engine began to lose power. The pilot declared an emergency and headed toward the shore. The airplane descended through the clouds and broke out around 1,000 feet. The pilot noticed the RPM reading went to zero, and there were no signs of oil pressure or vacuum pressure. The propeller was wind milling. The pilot elected to ditch the airplane into the Gulf of Mexico. The pilot and passenger were rescued by a fishing boat about 10 minutes after the airplane was ditched.

Examination of the engine revealed the crankshaft was fractured at the number four connecting rod journal just forward of the gear shaft. A review of the engine maintenance logbook showed that the crankshaft had 72 hours since its last maintenance overhaul and 4680 hours total time. The connecting rod bearing, the entire crankshaft assembly and the connecting rod were sent via FedEx to the NTSB materials lab for examination on April 18, 2001. The NTSB lab never received the parts. Several attempts to track the parts through FedEx were unsuccessful.

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