Flying after engine fire fatal for pilot

This July 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: RV-9A. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Oregon City, Ore. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: A few days before the accident, the pilot noted that the RV-9A’s engine was operating erratically. The day before the accident it lost power while the pilot was taxiing. It took several attempts to restart the engine. When it did start, flames came out of the inlet port. A fire extinguisher was used to extinguish the fire.

The day of the accident the pilot cleaned up the residue left from the extinguisher, started the engine, performed a run-up, and then departed to fly the airplane back to his home airport. A short time after takeoff, the airplane was seen maneuvering at a low altitude adjacent to a highway as if attempting to land on the road. The engine lost power and the airplane hit trees and power lines during a forced landing. The airplane came to rest inverted and caught fire.

Extensive fire damage precluded testing the integrity of the fuel system. Numerous fittings and controls on the engine were loose or very low torque, most likely due to thermal damage from the post-crash fire.

The examination did not show any evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunction or abnormalities, although the damage was too extensive to definitively determine the reason for the loss of power.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to depart in an aircraft with known mechanical anomalies and the loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.

For more information: NTSB Identification: WPR10LA366


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