ERA12LA405
ERA12LA405

On June 16, 2012, about 0040 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 152, N67324, was substantially damaged following a loss of engine power and collision with terrain near Miami, Florida. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. The airplane was registered to a private corporation and was operated by Dean International Flight School under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, as an instructional flight. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Fort Myers, Florida (FMY) about 2300 on June 15, 2012 and was destined for Miami, Florida (TMB).

The student and flight instructor reported the following. A pre-flight inspection was performed, the fuel tanks were “topped off,” and the engine oil level showed 4.5 quarts. An additional quart of oil was added and the flight departed FMY about 2300. The departure and en route portions of the flight were uneventful. About 0040, 7 miles northwest of TMB, the pilot observed the first indication of engine roughness. The student was at the controls at the time. Carburetor heat was applied; however, no improvement in performance was noted. Shortly thereafter, “…the engine made sputtering sounds and quit…” The flight instructor took the controls and attempted to restart the engine. The engine would not restart, and the flight instructor performed a forced landing in a nearly field.

According to an airworthiness inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), mechanics, who were employed by the operator, responded to the accident site to recover the wreckage. A NTSB Air Safety Investigator provided direction on documenting the condition of the wreckage and photographing the evidence. During the recovery, the mechanics noted that the wreckage was inverted; however, no fuel or oil spill was noted and the wing fuel tanks were not compromised. The fuel filler caps were secure. Once the aircraft was righted, the fuel was drained from the wing tanks into plastic containers and the quantity was documented. About one quart of fuel was recovered from each tank. The oil dipstick was removed and inspected. It showed no oil level registering on the stick. There was no evidence of an oil leak on the engine or its components, on the interior of the engine cowling, or on the exterior of the fuselage.

On June 19, 2012, the FAA inspector visited the operator’s facilities and inspected the wreckage. No oil or oil residue was observed on the engine firewall, engine, or cowling. The engine propeller could not be turned. While in conversation with the operator’s lead mechanic (who was present in the recovery of the aircraft), the FAA inspector was informed that the oil temperature line for the engine was removed after the accident and installed on another engine to test for leaks. The mechanic stated that the oil temperature line leaked when installed on the other aircraft. The FAA inspector had not been provided release of the wreckage from the NTSB and was unaware, nor present when the test had been performed. She informed the lead mechanic the NTSB had not given permission to the operator to remove or test any oil lines.

An examination of the disassembled engine revealed evidence of seizure. The crankshaft, aft of the number 3 crankpin journal, was twisted counterclockwise and bent. The area of the number 3 crankpin journal was discolored, consistent with elevated temperature and lack of lubrication. Ferrous particles were found in the oil sump. The number 3 connecting rod exhibited heat damage and distortion. For additional information regarding the engine examination, refer to the “Engine Examination Field Notes” located in the public docket for this investigation.

According to the aircraft engine maintenance records, a 100-hour inspection was performed on June 13, 2012. The maintenance included an oil and filter change. The tachometer time at the inspection was 3,662.1 hours. The tachometer time reading when the FAA inspector examined the wreckage was 3,677.6 hours.

According to the engine manufacturer, the minimum safe quantity of oil in the sump is 2 quarts.

49 CFR Part 830.10 (NTSB) addresses the preservation of aircraft wreckage. It states, “The operator of an aircraft involved in an accident or incident for which notification must be given is responsible for preserving to the extent possible any aircraft wreckage, cargo, and mail aboard the aircraft, and all records, including all recording mediums of flight, maintenance, and voice recorders, pertaining to the operation and maintenance of the aircraft and to the airmen until the Board takes custody thereof or a release is granted pursuant to § 831.12(b) of this chapter. Prior to the time the Board or its authorized representative takes custody of aircraft wreckage, mail, or cargo, such wreckage, mail, or cargo may not be disturbed or moved except to the extent necessary: (1) To remove persons injured or trapped; (2) To protect the wreckage from further damage; or (3) To protect the public from injury.”

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