On March 17, 2010, approximately 1100 Pacific daylight time, a Piper Arrow PA-28R-200, N1KU, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Eliza Island, Washington. The private pilot/owner and the pilot-rated passenger were not injured. The owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local maintenance test flight, which had been airborne for approximately 15 minutes. A flight plan had not been filed; the flight departed from Bellingham, Washington. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot/owner stated that the airplane had just been annually inspected and was signed off on February 24, 2010. Due to bad weather and other commitments, he could not perform a maintenance flight until March 17, 2010. On that day, he invited a fellow pilot and occasional flight instructor to join him. During their extensive preflight, it was noted that the engine crankcase contained 7 quarts of oil. The engine start and taxi out were normal; the before takeoff run-up was "a bit longer than usual," which gave time to confirm good engine oil pressure. The magnetos checked normal and the propeller cycled normally.
The pilot/owner performed the takeoff and climbed to 4,800 feet. After 8 to 10 minutes of flight, the propeller went to low pitch and the engine to high rpm. The propeller did not respond to the propeller control. A forced landing spot was selected to a grass strip on a small island. The engine began making metal grinding noises and vibrating heavily. Soon thereafter, the engine froze and the propeller stopped. The pilot-rated passenger took control of the airplane and performed a forced landing. During this time, the airplane's automatic landing gear extension system lowered the landing gear earlier than the flying pilot had planned. The airplane landed short of the runway, and struck a 3-foot-high beach piling with its right wing root. The fuselage was twisted, and both wings were bent and wrinkled.
Examination of the engine revealed that the crank case was cracked and the bottom of the fuselage was covered with oil. After aircraft recovery to a salvage yard, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator examined the engine on April 7, 2010. He found that the fitting which attached the propeller governor high pressure oil line from the nose of the crankcase to the propeller governor was loose. Maintenance records indicated that during the annual inspection, the propeller governor on the engine's accessory section had been removed so that its gasket could be replaced.