On October 31, 2005, at 1220 eastern standard time, an amateur built Maxair Drifter XP-50, N41094, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Cobbs Creek, Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at Hummel Field Airport (W75), Saluda, Virginia. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, about 15 minutes after takeoff, he was flying at an altitude of 500 feet, and maneuvering to take pictures of a house. While maneuvering, the pilot noticed the engine power drop by about 400 rpm. He initiated a left 180-degree turn, and within about 3 seconds, the engine lost power completely. The pilot then prepared for a forced landing to a field. During the landing the airplane impacted the ground in a left wing low attitude, and in an "incipient stall" condition. The airplane then bounced and slid about 20 feet, before coming to rest at an angle about 90 degrees from the first impact.
A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airplane and engine after the accident. According to the inspector, the Rotax engine was rotated by hand and compression was obtained on all cylinders. Spark was observed on all four ignition leads, and the spark plugs were examined and displayed no abnormalities. The throttle cable and carburetor also exhibited no mechanical deficiencies. Examination of the fuel system revealed no deficiencies, and "sufficient" fuel was present in the fuel tanks.
The inspector attempted to start the engine; however, he was unsuccessful. The inspector noted that the ignition switch and the ignition wiring from the magneto to the secondary transformer was damaged.
According to the pilot, the last condition inspection of the airplane was performed on June 10, 2005. Prior to the inspection, the airplane had not been flown since October 2004, and since the inspection the pilot had flown the airplane 13.3 hours.
Review of the operator manual for the Rotax engine revealed, "This engine, by its design, is subject to sudden stoppage. Engine stoppage can result in crash landings, forced landings, or no power landings. Such crash landings can lead to serious bodily injury or death. Never fly the aircraft equipped with this engine at locations, airspeeds, altitudes, or other circumstances from which a successful no-power landing cannot be made, after sudden engine stoppage."
The manual further stated, "This is not a certificated aircraft engine. It has not received any safety or durability testing, and conforms to no aircraft standards. It is for use in experimental, uncertificated aircraft and vehicles only in which an engine failure will not compromise safety. User assumes all risk of use, and acknowledges by his use that he knows this engine is subject to sudden stoppage."