This June 2009 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: Cirrus SR22. Injuries: None. Location: Elkin, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, the airplane was in cruise flight at an altitude of 6,000 feet MSL when he heard a loud bang in the engine compartment. Oil began to flow over the windshield. He activated the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System and the airplane descended under the parachute. The Cirrus came down in a cornfield.
Examination of the engine revealed the No. 2 piston had failed due to a fatigue crack. The crack originated adjacent to the piston pin in the pin boss area. The exact location of the fatigue crack and the cause of fatigue crack initiation could not be determined due to extensive damage. While the pin boss is in an area under high stress and it is possible that operational factors, such as improper timing, could initiate a fatigue crack, the investigation could not determine the cause of the fatigue crack.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power due to the failure of the No. 2 piston as a result of a fatigue crack of undetermined origin.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification: ERA09IA331.