The airline transport pilot was departing on a personal local flight in his Mooney M20M when the engine lost total power.
Review of security video at the airport in Worcester, Mass., revealed that, after takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of about 200 feet before turning right and reversing direction.
The airplane subsequently stalled, rolled to the right, and descended uncontrolled into trees. The pilot died in the crash.
According to investigators, it is likely that the pilot reversed direction to return to the airport but failed to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack, an aerodynamic stall, and loss of control.
Examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft had failed due to fatigue cracking between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The cracking pattern suggested that numerous overstress conditions of relatively short durations acted to initiate the fatigue cracks, but the cause for this overstress could not be determined.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power during the initial climb due to a fatigue failure of the engine’s crankshaft. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
This October 2015 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.