CEN10LA531
CEN10LA531

On September 9, 2010, at 1251 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, N3560B, collided with the terrain during an off airport forced landing following a loss of engine power near Buchanan, Michigan. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was operated by Donnair Aviation. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The last leg of the flight originated from the Dowagiac Municipal Airport (C91), Dowagiac, Michigan, at 1242.

The pilot reported he departed Valparaiso, Indiana, and flew to C91 where he made a touch and go landing. He then climbed to an altitude of 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl) for the flight back to Valparaiso. The pilot stated he turned the fuel pump on, switched fuel tanks, and turned the fuel pump back off. About 11 minutes later, the engine lost all power and the propeller stopped rotating. The pilot made an off airport forced landing in a corn field. The nose gear was pushed back into the firewall and the right wing was pulled away from the fuselage during the landing.

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-D3G engine, serial number L-8748-39A. The engine was overhauled in September 2005, and it had accumulated 1,637 hours since the overhaul. The total time on the engine was 6,987.9 hours. Reconditioned lifters were installed on the airplane during the engine overhaul.

A postaccident inspection of the engine revealed the head of the #4 cylinder exhaust valve lifter was separated from the lifter body. The fractured surface of lifter body was completely smeared from impact damage. The heads on the #3 cylinder intake valve lifter, the #4 cylinder intake valve lifter, and the #4 cylinder exhaust valve lifter were all fractured with a portion of the head separated. Six pieces of the separated sections from the valve lifter heads were found inside the crankcase. The fractured surfaces, when examined by the investigator in charge under a 10X magnifier, did not show any indications of fatigue.

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