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N1381J accident description

Massachusetts map... Massachusetts list
Crash location 42.518056°N, 71.299166°W
Nearest city Bedford, MA
42.483428°N, 71.282835°W
2.5 miles away
Tail number N1381J
Accident date 24 Jan 2004
Aircraft type Rockwell 112A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On January 24, 2004, about 2215 eastern standard time, a Rockwell International 112A, N1381J, was destroyed after a forced landing near Laurence G Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts. The two certificated commercial pilots received minor injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the airplane was not operating on a flight plan. The personal flight, which departed from Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts, en route to Boire Field (ASH), Nashua, New Hampshire, was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

A compilation of the pilot in command (PIC) and second pilot statements revealed that they departed Hyannis about 2130, after dropping off the second pilot's father. Climbing through 3,000 feet, the second pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC) and requested flight following services to Nashua. In order to fly direct to Nashua, and per ATC instructions, the PIC climbed the airplane to 7,500 feet to remain clear of Boston Class B airspace. During the climb, he set the engine's mixture control so that the fuel flow indicated 12 gallons per hour, and "the exhaust gas temperature [EGT] showed a small climb, but was still way below mid-range."

After passing Boston Class B airspace, the pilots received clearance to descend to 4,500 feet. During the descent, the PIC paid "particular attention to the fuel flow, EGT, and cylinder head temperature (CHT)." He discussed with the second pilot, the possibility that they may have been "running the CHT too cold" given the low ambient temperature of -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

About 20 miles southeast of Nashua, and approximately 5,500 feet, thick black smoke began to rapidly flow into the cabin. The pilots' initial assessment was that the smoke may have been the result of an electrical fire, so the PIC shut off the master switch and vented the cabin. The second pilot grabbed his flashlight and donned an emergency escape hood.

With the master switch off and the cabin vented, the majority of the smoke cleared quickly, although some smoke still entered the cabin. The second pilot checked the engine gauges, and found there was no oil pressure. The pilots felt they were about to lose engine power, so the second pilot turned on the master switch to notify approach control, and once on, "it was obvious they were looking for us." The second pilot advised the controller of the problem, and requested vectors to Hanscom Field for an emergency landing. The controller told the pilots that the field was at their 6 o'clock position, and to turn 180 degrees.

Approximately 1 minute later, about 4,500 feet, the engine began to vibrate, and there was a loss of power. The vibration intensified, and the engine began to shake violently. The PIC told the second pilot he was concerned that the engine would break the engine mounts, so he shut it down while the second pilot flew the airplane.

The second pilot flew the airplane at best glide airspeed, and about 5-6 miles north of the airport, both pilots realized that they were not going to be able to reach it. They advised approach control, and began looking for places to land, including Route 128, which was full of traffic. They found what appeared to be an open area, "that wasn't a large field, but the area seemed more clear than most - at least there [weren't] any people or homes there."

The pilots discussed flying the airplane at 60 knots, and landing in a nose-high attitude, "hoping that the fuselage would provide us some protection from the trees." About 1,000 feet, the second pilot turned the airplane into the wind. Approaching the ground, the pilots saw trees in the landing light, and as the second pilot maneuvered the airplane to avoid any direct tree hits, the stall warning went off intermittently. Just before ground impact, the PIC secured the master switch.

During the landing, the airplane hit several trees and came to a stop, and flames surrounded it. The pilots tried to open both doors, but they were jammed. The second pilot then noticed that the windshield was gone, and he, followed by the PIC, crawled out of it and onto the cowl, and stepped down into burning branches. They then walked about 100 yards to the nearest house.

The airplane was subsequently destroyed by fire.

The engine was a Lycoming IO-360-C1D6. A post-accident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the #2 piston connecting rod cap had separated, and that there was a hole in the side of the engine case. The number 1, 3, and 4 cylinders were covered with black residue, and the number 2 cylinder was coated with white residue. In addition, items on the engine accessory section were melted.

According to the inspector, the engine was last overhauled in September 1990, about 700 operating hours earlier. Lycoming Service Instruction 1009AQ noted that that if an engine did not reach its recommended hourly time between overhauls (1,800 hours for the IO-360-C series engines), it should be overhauled in the 12th year after the previous overhaul.

The weather reported at Hanscom Field, about 4 nautical miles south of the landing site, at 2156, included clear skies, winds from 290 degrees true at 13, gusting to 20 knots, 10 miles visibility, temperature 7 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point -11 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 29.93 inches of mercury. In addition, it was a moonless night.

NTSB Probable Cause

Failure of the #2 piston connecting rod cap, which resulted in a hole in the engine crankcase and a loss of engine power. A factor was dark night lighting condition.

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