IAD02LA056
IAD02LA056

On May 31, 2002, at 1950 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 177RG, N8200G, was substantially damaged during a forced landing shortly after takeoff from Trenton Mercer Airport (TTN), Trenton, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight which was destined for Ocean City Municipal Airport (26N), Ocean City, New Jersey. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, on the day prior to the accident, he experienced a partial loss of manifold pressure during a flight from Groton, Connecticut, to Princeton, New Jersey. He diverted to Hartford, Connecticut, and the airplane was examined by a mechanic. The mechanic replaced the throttle control assembly on the day of the accident, and performed a run-up inspection with the pilot. The pilot departed Hartford and flew to Groton with no abnormalities noted. While at Groton, the pilot refueled the airplane with 10 gallons of fuel. He performed a preflight and run-up inspection, then departed for Trenton. The pilot landed at Trenton, and added 15-20 gallons of fuel to the airplane. He checked the fuel sumps and performed another pre-flight inspection. Again, no abnormalities were noted.

About 1930, the pilot departed from runway 24 at Trenton en route to Ocean City, New Jersey. During the takeoff roll, the pilot noted that the oil temperature and pressure, manifold pressure, and rpm gauges were all "normal." Shortly after the pilot retracted the landing gear, he experienced a "near complete power loss." The sound of the engine was "much quieter," and there weren't any other unusual sounds or indications. The airplane was about 300 feet above the ground and 3/4 of the way down the runway when the engine lost power. The pilot lowered the landing gear, retarded the throttle, and attempted to land on the remaining runway. The airplane touched down at the end of the runway, traveled off the end, and came to rest in a field.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination of the airplane. According to the inspector, substantial damage was observed to the right wing, fuselage and landing gear. Examination of the engine revealed that the plastic alternate air door was separated from the induction airbox and located in the bottom of the air intake. The plastic air door was separated from the front of the airbox around two screws located at the 5 and 7 o'clock positions. The screws remained attached to the airbox.

A test run of the engine was performed. The engine started without hesitation and ran at a low power setting for several minutes. Damage to the propeller prevented the engine from being tested at higher power settings.

The airplane was manufactured in 1971.

Service Letter SE71-32 was issued by Cessna Aircraft Company on October 22, 1971, which addressed the relocation of the alternate air door in the 1971 Cessna 177RG. The purpose of the relocation was to increase reliability and extend the service life of the induction airbox. In addition to the relocation of the door, compliance would also have strengthened the airbox structure. The specific changes outlined in the service letter included moving the alternate air door from the front to the rear of the airbox and incorporating a wider flange on the airbox base assembly to improve structural integrity.

The service letter required that the induction airbox chamber walls be inspected for cracks "at the next major maintenance period, but no later than the next 100 hours of operation." If cracks were observed, the induction airbox was to be replaced with a new assembly that incorporated the above production improvements. If no cracks were observed, the alternate air door was to be relocated to the rear of the airbox.

The Cessna 177RG Parts Manual specified that the rear-mounted alternate air door be constructed of metal.

A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed no entries to indicate compliance with the service letter.

The pilot reported that he had owned the airplane for 3 years. He reported 2,400 hours of total flight experience and 2,100 hours in make and model.

Weather reported at Trenton, at 1853, included winds from 220 at 12 knots, gusting to 18 knots, 10 miles visibility, skies clear, temperature 27 degrees F, dew point 20 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 29.57 inches Mercury.

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