Part failure proves fatal

Aircraft: Cessna 177RG. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Location: Tallapoosa, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The airplane was in cruise flight at 4,000 feet when the engine lost oil pressure.

The pilot declared an emergency. He requested and received radar vectors to the nearest airport. Shortly thereafter, the pilot advised the controller that he was unable to reach the airport and was going to land in a field.

According to a witness, the airplane flew over his home at a low altitude then made a sharp, banking turn in an attempt to land in a clearing. The airplane missed the clearing, hit a tree, then caught fire.

During the post-accident examination of the engine, the left and right crankcase halves were found fractured between the No. 1 and No. 2 cylinder base pads. The No. 2 crankshaft journal was visible through the crankcase fracture, and no connecting rod was observed on the journal.

Further examination of the No. 2 cylinder rod cap and the related bolt pieces revealed that the rod cap was fractured. It also revealed that the bearing shells for the No. 3 and No. 4 cylinders displayed severe abrasive wear on the bearing surfaces.

Investigators determined that due to the failure of the No. 2 rod end cap bolt, the rod end cap came loose, which resulted in a fracture of the case halves and subsequent loss of engine oil. After the loss of engine oil, the engine seized, which resulted in a total loss of engine power.

Probable cause: The failure of the No. 2 rod end cap bolt, which resulted in a total loss of engine power.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA084

This November 2011 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.


  1. Greg W says

    As far as the mechanic, the engine was repaired in 2006 the failure in 2011, long past the time that “infant mortality” would be expected. The flight was at 4000 ft. with a bkn 3600,sct 2900 could layer, that reduces the time to select the landing spot. The report does not say what else was around so it must be thought that the pilot picked the best spot in view. They unfortunately just got caught, there are risks to everything. Also, yes I have had an engine failure and had to land in a field but I did not have two passengers as in this case, who may or may not have added to the stress.

  2. B.J.Suffridge says

    I have to agree with Tony. There isn’t enough information available to start blaming the pilot or the CFI for any training deficiencies? For instance, which would be best, attempting a sharp turn with no power or plowing into a grain elevator with no power?

    He was a fellow pilot who had an engine failure (perhaps the mechanic should be blamed if the blame is going to be passed around??) which can happen to any of us and that’s about all that can be said, or should be said, with the information available.

  3. vaughn price says

    This pilot was short changed by his Instructors in the area of engine failure emergency landings. almost all accidents are caused by an under trained pilot. Wake up you Instructors

    • Bluestar says

      Yes, agree.
      Sharp turns with no power and low altitude are a bad combo, he might have panicked and forgot his emergency and approach procedures .

    • Tony O'Brien says

      Now that adise sounds like like it comes from someone who wants to hear himself act like he knows it all. Give it up, you have no clue based on this article exactly what steps were taken by the pilot. How do you know he is under trained, do you have his log book in hand? Do you know the area so well you can read the pilots mind regarding choice?

      Why not just take the article for what it is, tragic, and leave the CFII who trained him out of the story? Your ignorance, and I don’t need your log book to know how ignorant you are, shows.

      • Daryl DeBetta says

        I agree with you completely…maybe he was trying a last ditch effort to save the group of children that were playing in that field. Just one of a million senerios that may have caused the final events of this tragedy…I wonder how many catostophic engine failure forced landings in a field Mr. Vaughn Price has experienced and walked away from?

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