On December 27, 2001, at about 1950 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172M, N4452Q, registered to Redsky Aircraft Sales LLC, operated by Apollo Aviation Company Inc., as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight experienced a total electrical failure in the vicinity of Trenton, Florida, and crashed during a forced landing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an air filed VFR flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The private pilot and two passengers reported minor injuries. The flight originated from Panama City, Florida, at 1625.

The pilot stated he was in radio contact with ATC over Cross City, Florida, tuning in the Gainesville, Florida VOR. The VOR would not come up and both VOR's in the airplane failed followed by the GPS. The Com 1 radio started blinking and failed. He switched to the Com 2 radio to notify ATC and it would not transmit. The Com 2 radio started blinking and failed followed by the transponder. He checked the voltmeter and the red light was not illuminated. The voltmeter needle was slightly off the middle scale. The exterior lights went out and he got out his flashlight and flew around for about 30 to 40 minutes trying to locate an airport which was unsuccessful. His uncle, a passenger took out his cell phone and made a 911 telephone call. The Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office answered and tried to assist them in identifying their location. He spotted an open field and made a forced landing. On landing rollout the airplane collided with a dirt mound, nosed down, and came to a complete stop.

Examination of the aircraft logbook revealed the voltage regulator was removed and replaced on 12-11-98 due to no over voltage light indication. There is no recorded entry in the logbook to indicate that an Electro Systems Inc., voltage regulator was installed on the airplane. Examination of N4452Q revealed that an Electro Systems Inc., voltage regulator ELDT PN: VR600A, ELD SN: 9092427 was installed. According to the Director of Maintenance for Apollo Aviation Company., Inc. the Electro Systems 600A voltage regulator was installed under Work Order No. 39299 on December 16, 1999.

Review of Cessna 172 and Skyhawk Series 1969 thru 1976 Service Manual dated 15 June 1975 states in Section 16 Electrical Systems, the procedures for trouble shooting the alternator system on page16-9 through 16-10. It lists the trouble, probable cause and the remedy with steps to be followed in trouble shooting the system.

Step 1 of the remedy could not be accomplished due to the engine being partially separated from the airframe. This step required the engine to be started and for the rpm to be adjusted to 1500 rpm. The alternator was removed and taken to an authorized repair station for a functional check. The functional check revealed the alternator met the standards required and the alternator was reinstalled.

The cover was removed from the voltage regulator and the circuit panel was intact with no damage. The master switch was turned on several times and the relay did not open nor was a small arc observed. The voltage regulator was inoperative. The voltage was checked at the "S" terminal of the regulator with a voltmeter with the master switch closed. The meter read bus voltage. The remedy procedures states in step 3, "Check voltage at "S" terminal of regulator with master switch closed. Master should indicate bus voltage. If voltage is present, replace regulator. If voltage is not present, check wiring between regulator and bus."

The wreckage of N4452Q was released to Mr. William T. Dodson, Atlanta Air Salvage, Griffin, Georgia, on January 11, 2002. The aircraft logbooks were released to Mr. Mark C. Thompson, United States Aviation Underwriters, Atlanta, Georgia, on January 10, 2002.

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