On July 10, 2004, at 1159 Pacific daylight time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N2542H, force landed on Interstate 5 approximately 3 miles northwest of Castaic, California, after a loss of engine power. Upon touchdown, the airplane's wing clipped a van, and the airplane came to rest inverted. The pilot was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane departed from the Brackett Field, La Verne, California, at 1111, and was destined for the Rio Linda Airport, Rio Linda, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The pilot was operating the borrowed airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a California Highway Patrol (CHP) sergeant that responded to the scene, the pilot made an emergency landing on northbound Interstate 5 (I-5) after the engine lost power. Vehicles saw the airplane and slowed; however, upon touchdown the left wing of the airplane clipped a van, and the airplane veered from the highway and came to rest inverted. Fuel was present at the scene. The CHP sergeant conducted a breach alcohol content (BAC) test on the pilot at the accident site. The results indicated a level of .25 and .24 percent. According to 14 CFR Part 91.17, in part, no person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having .04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood.
The owner of the airplane was contacted. He purchased the airplane, located in Texas, 2 months prior to the accident and it was being ferried to him by the former owner. During the flight from Texas to Phoenix, Arizona, the former owner of the airplane reported high oil temperatures. The airplane was repaired and the new owner hired the pilot through a referral, to ferry the airplane from Phoenix to Rio Linda.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector interviewed the pilot. The pilot stated that en route to his destination the oil pressure dropped and the engine lost power. He attempted an emergency landing on I-5 but during the touchdown, the left wing collided with a van. Post accident examination revealed that oil was present on the bottom side of the fuselage and one propeller blade was bent.
Maintenance records for the airplane indicated that an annual inspection had been completed on February 21, 2004. On a page dated July, 2004, there was an entry that stated in part, "Recommended new oil tank as soon as possible." The entry indicated that the engine was examined because it "ran low on oil."
The engine was examined on July 14, 2004, under the auspices of an FAA inspector, by a representative from Teledyne Continental. The crankshaft would not rotate 360 degrees. The number 2 connecting rod separated at one bolt and one ear of the rod big end. The coloration of the connecting rod and its crankshaft journal were black and blue in color. This coloration was consistent with the number 1 connecting rod and the remainder of the rear section of the crankshaft. The removal of the oil pressure screen revealed that it was finger tight in the oil screen housing. The oil dipstick indicated 3/4-quart of oil, and oil was observed on the fuselage bottom. The routing of the oil travels from the sump, to the oil pump, through the oil screen, to the engine. If the screen is loose then oil has the ability to leak out.
According to FAA Airman records, the pilot's certificate had been suspended since 1997.
The pilot failed to respond to NTSB Form 6120.1/2.