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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 187703
Last updated: 26 January 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic VEZE model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Rutan VariEze
Registration: N80681
C/n / msn: 1424
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:WSW of Santa Paula Airport (KSZP), Santa Paula, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Unknown
Departure airport:Santa Paula, CA (SZP)
Destination airport:Santa Paula, CA (SZP)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The airline transport pilot and a passenger departed on a local area flight; shortly after takeoff, the engine experienced a total loss of power. To the northwest of the accident site was an open field and a road; both were available to use for landing but presented challenges. The field had been recently plowed and there was auto traffic on the road. It was likely that the pilot was attempting to land on the road but struck power lines during the descent. The airplane came to rest in a lemon orchard and was subsequently consumed by a postcrash fire.

Visual examination of the engine revealed thermal damage. The engine crankcase was disassembled; the main bearings on the left crankcase half were dark in color and exhibited pitting. The camshaft drive gear cluster displayed nine broken teeth, most of which were found in the oil sump.

Metallurgical examination revealed that three of the camshaft drive gear teeth failed in fatigue, which subsequently resulted in the overstress failure of the other six teeth. The fatigue initiated at sharp corners formed during hand-grinding of the forward faces of the teeth while dressing the edges and removing burrs from the teeth during manufacture.

Airplane logbook entries revealed that the engine was assembled by a third party and installed new on the airframe about 13 years before the accident.

Probable Cause: A total loss of engine power due to fatigue failure of the camshaft drive gear teeth.


FAA register:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 11 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

29-May-2016 00:36 Geno Added
29-May-2016 05:47 bovine Updated [Narrative]
29-May-2016 05:48 harro Updated [Aircraft type]
31-May-2016 22:25 Geno Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:30 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
16-May-2018 15:37 ASN Update Bot Updated [Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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