On March 4, 2006, about 1445 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N8322C, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing, about 2 miles south of the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport, Winslow, Arizona. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The certificated private pilot and the sole passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan was in effect. The intended routing of the flight was from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Palm Springs California, with a fuel stop in Winslow. The accident flight originated at the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport, Winslow, about 1445. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on March 4, the pilot reported that after completing the uneventful flight between Lincoln and Winslow, he purchased about 50 gallons of fuel, and then departed on the final flight leg to Palm Springs. He said that just after takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above the ground, the engine began to run rough, and lose power. The pilot said that after performing the engine emergency procedures, he was unable to restore sufficient engine power to sustain flight, and he selected a forced landing area among rolling hills. He stated that during the emergency descent, just before touch down, all engine power was lost. During the forced landing roll, the airplane struck a barbwire fence, pivoted to the left, and collapsed the main landing gear. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.
According to the pilot/owner, the airplane was equipped with a recently installed factory-remanufactured Textron Lycoming IO-540 engine. The pilot's maintenance provider located in Lincoln preformed the engine installation, about 20 hours before the accident.
The airplane was retrieved from the accident site and transported to Phoenix, Arizona.
On March 24, 2006, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector from the Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office, along with an air safety investigator from Textron Lycoming, conducted an engine exam and test run of the accident engine. The FAA inspector reported that the engine remained attached to the airframe, and once the engine was started, it ran rough and would not produce full power. A subsequent internal inspection of the engine's fuel flow divider revealed a grayish, soft, rubbery material partially blocking the ports of the flow divider's metering pin.
The recovered material, along with the fuel flow divider, fuel injector servo, and a portion of fuel line that connected the fuel injector servo to the fuel flow divider fuel supply line, was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory for examination. A Safety Board senior metallurgist reported that the grayish-colored rubbery material consisted of agglomerations of smaller particles, consistent with Teflon like material, showing a significant fluorine elemental peak. Each mass measured less than 0.06 inches in maximum dimension with individual particles estimated to be a few thousands of an inch in size, which would break apart into smaller clumps when probed. The metallurgist reported that the rubbery material was not consistent with the fuel supply line material, and no additional debris was found inside the fuel line or within the fuel injector servo. There was no debris discovered in the interior of the fuel injector servo, or in the fuel injector's inlet screen.
A senior manager for Textron Lycoming's materials laboratory reported to the NTSB that when factory-remanufactured engines are shipped, the fuel injector servo assembly is not installed on the engine. He said that once the engine has been test-run at the factory, and before the engine is shipped to the customer, or to the customer's maintenance provider, the fuel injector servo is removed from the engine, and placed inside the engine-shipping crate. He stated that the fuel flow divider assembly remains attached to the engine, and that the fuel line which connects the fuel flow divider and the fuel injector servo, remains connected to the fuel flow divider. The other end of the fuel line is then capped-off during shipment. It is the responsibility of the maintenance technician to install the fuel control servo on the engine, connect the fuel line, and ensure that no debris enters the fuel line or fuel flow divider during the process.
The Safety Board released the fuel system components to the owner's representatives on November 13, 2006.