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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA09CA162
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 06, 2009 in Crossville, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/06/2009
Aircraft: Davis Sonex, registration: N555SX
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the amateur-built airplane was initiating a test flight to check a new propeller. After advancing the throttle, the airplane accelerated with normal power. However, at an altitude of 300 feet, the engine lost total power. The pilot turned back to the departure runway and landed on soft ground to the south of the runway. The landing gear collapsed, substantially damaging the firewall. Examination of the airplane revealed that continuity existed throughout the engine drivetrain, and the engine had no visible damage. The fuel was sampled and no contamination was observed. Examination of the fuel filter revealed no obstructions, the fuel pump operated normally, and the air filter was clean. The spark plugs were determined to be functional; however, no electrical energy was being delivered to the spark plugs. Further examination revealed that the electronic control unit (ECU) was not transmitting voltage to the dual coils. The ECU was manufactured to automotive specifications, and was supposed to be installed in an area of the airplane where temperatures do not exceed 65 degrees Celsius (preferably on the cabin side of the firewall). The ECU on the accident airplane was installed on the engine side of the firewall.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A total loss of engine power during initial climb due to the failure of the ignition power supply as a result of the improper installation of the electronic control unit.