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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worcester, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2017
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airline transport pilot was departing on a personal local flight in his airplane when the airplane's engine lost total power. Review of airport security video revealed that, after takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of about 200 ft before turning right and reversing direction. The airplane subsequently stalled, rolled to the right, and descended uncontrolled into trees. It is likely that the pilot reversed direction to return to the airport but failed to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack, an aerodynamic stall, and loss of control. Examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft had failed due to fatigue cracking between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The cracking pattern suggested that numerous overstress conditions of relatively short durations acted to initiate the fatigue cracks, but the cause for this overstress could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A total loss of engine power during the initial climb due to a fatigue failure of the engine's crankshaft. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.