IAD04LA024
IAD04LA024

On June 10, 2004, about 0830 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N53565, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Passaic, New Jersey. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight between Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey. The positioning flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a written statement submitted by the pilot, he was positioning the airplane for a pre-purchase inspection. The airplane had recently undergone numerous repairs deemed necessary by the owner, following a storage period of about 18 months. The flight initially departed Westerly State Airport (WST), Westerly, Rhode Island; however, about halfway between Westerly and Caldwell, the engine began to "run a little rough," so the pilot elected to land at Bridgeport. On the final leg of the approach to the airport, the engine began running normally again; however the pilot decided to land anyway and check the engine on the ground.

While on the ground at Bridgeport, the pilot drained and checked fuel from the fuel sumps, checked the oil, and looked inside and outside of the engine compartment, and found no abnormalities.

The pilot took off from Bridgeport and did not note any additional engine problems until about 45 minutes later, when the engine suddenly stopped. The pilot performed all of the appropriate checklists, and after determining that he could not land at the nearest airport, elected to land the airplane on a golf course below. After touchdown, the pilot maneuvered the airplane to avoid a golfer. The airplane subsequently became airborne again and traveled an additional 200 feet. The right wing of the airplane then struck a tree; then the airplane turned 180 degrees and came to a stop in a sand trap.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, at the accident scene, the engine cowl was partially removed in order to disconnect the battery, all exterior damage to the airplane was noted, and fuel was found leaking from the fuel tanks. The firewall and engine mounts were bent, and the main fuel line from the firewall to the carburetor was "freshly sheared." The inspector also reported that the airplane was initially moved by local firefighters, then moved by aircraft recovery personnel.

The airplane's wings were subsequently removed, and the airplane was then transported to an aircraft storage facility. At the facility, the engine, while still attached to the airframe, was run "at idle and at power." Both magnetos were also checked, and found to be running "normally."

The FAA inspector who supervised the engine run reported that, because the airplane's wings had been removed, the complete fuel system could not be utilized for the test. In addition, the fuel used for the test was not the fuel that was in the airplane's fuel tanks at the time of the accident, and was plumbed directly into the carburetor.

The carburetor was removed and examined at the Safety Board Materials Laboratory. There, it was determined that the fuel line had not been sheared, but instead, a part of the carburetor casting, that extended out from the carburetor main body and connected to the fuel line, had separated. An examination of the fracture mating surfaces revealed no evidence of fatigue cracking, but did contain features typical of overstress separation.

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