CHI05CA074
CHI05CA074

On February 26, 2005, at 1403 central standard time, a Cessna 177RG, N1623H, piloted by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during initial climb from runway 18 (9,000 feet by 150 feet, grooved concrete) at Hector International Airport (FAR), Fargo, North Dakota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane delivery flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries. The flight was destined for Festus Memorial Airport (FES), Festus, Missouri.

The airplane was recently sold and a pre-buy inspection of the airplane was completed on February 23, 2005, as a condition of the sale. During this inspection the engine oil filter was replaced. The accident flight was the first leg of a delivery flight from FAR to Charlotte, North Carolina. The airplane had accumulated 0.1 hours since the pre-buy inspection.

The pilot reported that the engine began losing power about two miles south of FAR. The pilot stated that he began a turn back toward FAR and informed air traffic control (ATC) of the loss of engine power. The pilot reported that the engine seized during the turn back to the airport and the airplane did not have enough altitude remaining to glide to a runway. The pilot performed a downwind landing to a nearby road because there was "no place to go into the wind, even knowing I had a 29 [knot] tailwind." The pilot reported that the airplane impacted a street light and vehicle during the forced landing to a residential area. The pilot estimated that less than 30-seconds transpired between the loss of engine power and the impact with terrain. The pilot reported that the oil-pressure was "in green" during an engine run-up check completed prior to takeoff. Several individuals reported there was an approximately 4-foot diameter oil spill on the ramp area used by the accident airplane for start-up and pre-takeoff operations.

Inspection of the engine revealed that the number four connecting rod had separated and protruded through the top of the engine case. An oil film covered the oil filter, the accessory case below the oil filter, and the bottom of the fuselage. The oil system was pressurized with nitrogen and a leak was noted around the base of the oil filter canister. The oil filter safety-wire was tensioned to the counter-clockwise (left) direction. A torque-wrench was used to measure the installation torque of the canister bolt. The bolt began tightening at 15 ft/lbs and the bolt had rotated 90-degrees at 25 ft/lbs. The recommended torque value for the canister bolt is 20 to 25 ft/lbs. The leak at the oil fileter canister base persisted after the canister bolt had been retorqued. The oil filter canister was removed and approximately 1/4 of the canister base gasket circumference was observed to be displaced (folded) to the inside of the canister sealing surface. No leaks were noted after the gasket was repositioned and the canister was reinstalled and torqued to 15 ft/lbs.

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