On August 10, 2002, at 0830 central daylight time, a Corken/Guillet Christen Eagle II, N96CG, piloted by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following an engine failure. The pilot reported setting up for an emergency landing following a partial loss of engine power. Shortly thereafter, the engine failed completely and the cockpit began to fill with smoke. At that time, the pilot and pilot-rated passenger elected to bail out. The accident occurred near Kaneville, Illinois, approximately 5 miles north of the Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR), Sugar Grove, Illinois. The flight departed ARR at 0815 cdt, with an intended destination of Galt Field Airport (10C), Greenwood, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries during their parachute landings.

In his written statement, the pilot reported that approximately 15 minutes after departure, while established in cruise flight 12 miles north of the airport at 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl), he noted a low engine oil pressure indication. He stated that an immediate turn back toward the airport was executed and that the control tower was notified of the problem. Shortly thereafter, the engine experienced a partial loss of engine power. At that point, the pilot noted that he selected an off-airport landing site and declared an emergency. Approximately 15 seconds later, the cockpit filled with smoke. The pilot stated: "Instructed passenger to prepare to bail out. Immediately afterward, [I] felt/heard 'bang' and engine/aircraft shook violently." The pilot and passenger bailed out, and the airplane impacted a field at a nearly vertical flight angle.

In an interview, the pilot stated that the oil quantity was checked during the preflight inspection. Examination of the airplane found the oil filler cap secured to the engine. The engine oil cooler, hoses and fittings sustained significant damage during the accident.

A post-accident engine examination (teardown) was conducted. The aft (#4) connecting rod bearing journal exhibited a dark discoloration and galling around the entire circumference. The aft (#4) connecting rod was fractured completely at three locations around the perimeter of the crankshaft connection. The connecting rod bolts were found to be damaged but intact. A connecting rod bearing was not present at the aft (#4) bearing journal location. The oil sump contained a significant number of metal fragments. The remaining connecting rod bearings, as well as the crankcase main bearings, were found to be intact and without any discoloration. The engine oil pump was noted to be undamaged and rotated freely.

The Christen Eagle II involved in the accident had accumulated 835 hours total time. The most recent annual inspection was completed on March 22, 2002, and the aircraft had been flown 154 hours since then. The Lycoming AEIO-360-A1D engine installed on the accident airplane had accumulated 622 hours since overhaul, and 154 hours since last inspection.

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