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N534S accident description

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Crash location 21.000000°N, 155.000000°W
Nearest city Maui, HI
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Tail number N534S
Accident date 16 Nov 2003
Aircraft type Suminski Cozy Long Ez
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On November 16, 2003, at 2115 Hawaiian standard time, an experimental Suminski Cozy Long EZ airplane, N534S, lost engine power during cruise approximately 100 miles northeast of Maui, Hawaii, and the pilot ditched it in the Pacific Ocean. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The commercial pilot, who held an airline transport pilot certificate for rotorcraft, sustained serious injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Honolulu, Hawaii, at 1751, for the cross-country ferry flight en route to Gross Field, Novato, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the nearest reporting station, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that the airplane was at 12,000 feet mean sea level (msl) when the engine began to experience variations of 100 rpm. The variations smoothed when he adjusted the mixture, and he initially thought that the variations were due to carburetor icing. After a few minutes, the conditions worsened, and he turned the airplane toward Kahalui Airport, Maui, Hawaii, located approximately 175 nautical miles (nm) away. As the rpm reduced, the oil pressure also decreased to about 40 psi. The pilot announced a "MAYDAY" call when he realized that the oil pressure was decreasing.

The pilot began a low-powered descent, and increased the airspeed to 140 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS). He also began pumping oil into the engine using a hand pump that he had installed prior to the flight. The oil pressure decreased to 5 to 10 psi. When the airplane was at 4,000 feet msl, about 90 nm northeast of Kahalui, the engine seized. The pilot then ditched the airplane in the ocean, and the U.S. Coast Guard rescued him several hours later.

Part of the airframe and the engine washed ashore on a beach near Hilo, Hawaii, about 30 days after the accident.

On February 6, 2004, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator completed an examination of the engine. The engine had been submerged in salt water and displayed rust-colored corrosion over visible components. The number 2 cylinder was missing, although witnesses reported that it was attached to the engine when it washed ashore. The crankcase had a 3-inch diameter hole on the bottom side near the number 1 cylinder. Oil drained from the engine during the disassembly.

The skirt of the number 1 piston was at the bottom of the cylinder base. The end of the connecting rod on the bottom side sustained mechanical damage; it folded over toward the other side. The bearing half was in place and folded over as well. The connecting rod rotated on the piston pin when tapped with a hammer. The rod cap and bolts were missing. The bolt holes were not elongated. A portion of the bearing half for the rod cap was in the bottom of the engine. It sustained mechanical damage and folded over on itself. There was no discoloration of the connecting rod journals, and no material transfer.

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power during cruise flight for an undetermined reason, which resulted in an emergency descent and ditching.

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