On May 10, 2009, at 1450 central daylight time (cdt), a Rockwell International model 112A airplane, N1348J, owned and operated by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following an en route loss of engine power near Metropolis, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot was seriously injured. His two passengers sustained minor injuries. The local area flight departed Metropolis Municipal Airport (M30), near Metropolis, Illinois, at 1439 cdt.

According to the pilot, he added 20 gallons of fuel before departure, which was distributed evenly between the two wing fuel tanks. Before takeoff, he performed a static engine run-up and no anomalies were noted. An uneventful takeoff was completed and the flight climbed to 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl) before the pilot leveled off and reduced engine power to a cruise power setting. A few minutes later, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power over the Shawnee National Forest. The pilot established best glide airspeed and began to look for a suitable off-field landing site. The pilot verified that the fuel selector was correctly positioned, the magneto switch was “on”, and he activated the electric fuel pump. The engine did not respond to the pilot’s corrective actions and he began to setup for an off-field landing. A nearby interstate had conflicting vehicular traffic at the time, so the pilot landed in an adjacent muddy field. During the off-field landing the main landing gear collapsed and separated from the airframe before coming to a stop. The engine firewall, fuselage, and both wings sustained substantial damage during the forced landing.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector examined the engine with the assistance of an airframe and powerplant mechanic. The right fuel tank contained about 13 gallons of fuel. The left tank contained no fuel, but the lower inboard portion of the tank had been damaged during the accident. The fuel line between the mechanical fuel pump and the fuel control unit contained fuel. The mechanical fuel pump created fuel flow as the propeller was turned. The gascolator contained fuel and its filter screen was clear of contaminates. The fuel selector functioned as designed. Internal mechanical continuity of the engine was established as the propeller was turned. Compression and suction were noted on all engine cylinders as the engine crankshaft was rotated. No anomalies were noted with the left and right magnetos, and both provided spark on all leads when rotated by hand. The upper spark plugs exhibited normal wear and burn signatures. The induction air filter was intact and was clean. The engine and propeller cockpit controls exhibited mechanical continuity to their respective components. The magneto switch was removed and no anomalies were noted during a subsequent bench test. The fuel control unit was removed and functioned as designed during a subsequent bench test. The engine could not be test run because of a bent propeller blade.

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