Unsecured oil cap brings down Cessna

This September 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: Cessna 182. Injuries: None. Location: Houston, Texas. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The airplane had just taken off and was at an altitude of 250 feet above ground when oil began to spray onto the windshield and the oil pressure dropped.

As the pilot turned onto the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern, the engine started to run rough. The pilot turned back to the runway. The airplane touched down on the last 250 feet of the runway and went through a fence.

The post-accident examination revealed that the engine’s oil cap was hanging by its chain and not secured on the engine case. The cap’s gasket appeared worn, however, the inspector could not determine when the cap came off. The pilot reported that the engine was serviced with oil prior to the flight and that he thought that the oil cap was secured afterward.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power during the initial climb due to decreased engine oil quantity and pressure as a result of the engine’s oil cap not being adequately secured.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: CEN10CA549

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