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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 45573
Last updated: 19 February 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic BE23 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Beechcraft C23 Sundowner
Owner/operator:Stephen W. Meester
Registration: N9180S
C/n / msn: M-1801
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:OAK SHORES, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:San Luis Obispo, CA (L52)
Destination airport:Harris Ranch, CA (3O8)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The airplane collided with trees following a loss of engine power. A passenger heard a "roar" through the four-way intercom. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the student pilot checked the oil pressure and fuel pressure; both were "good." The CFI pointed to the left and directed the student toward a private strip. During or immediately following the left turn, the CFI said, "I've got it." The student looked back at the two passengers, and motioned with his right hand that they were going to land at the strip. The last thing that the passenger remembered was contact with the trees and coming to rest. The airplane cleared a ridge top, but collided with trees about 1/4 mile from the landing strip. The spark plug for cylinder no. 1 sustained mechanical damage and contained metallic debris. The head of the cylinder no. 1 exhaust valve was missing, and the top of the piston exhibited mechanical damage across its entire surface. Metallurgists examined the valve and cylinder. The valve stem was broken and remained in the valve guide. The stem fractured and there were numerous secondary cracks below the fracture surface. The areas around the valve seats were severely damaged. The fracture surface condition was such that the fracture mechanism could not be determined. The secondary cracks were only in a local area where the material was severely battered and deformed. Many of the cracks were slightly curved and/or did not appear to be perpendicular to the outer or inner surface. These types of cracks are most likely to occur where surfaces have overlapped, or are the result of the excessive local strains in the area. There were no material or dimensional abnormalities that would suggest fatigue. The manufacturer issued maintenance instructions describing methods for determining exhaust valve and guide condition. This maintenance function was optional for the operator, and maintenance records indicated that this had not been done. Although the diameter of the exhaust valve stem was slightly below the specified diameter, this would have a small affect on overall stresses. However, a small change in diameter of the valve stem significantly changes the amount of clearance between the exhaust valve stem and the exhaust valve guide. Excessive clearance can lead to exhaust valve sticking, which can lead to overstress fracture. The engine total time was 2,079 hours, and it had not been overhauled since it was new in 1975. The manufacturer recommended overhaul at 2,000 hours or after 12 years of service life. Given the high hours on this engine and the number of years since overhaul, it was likely that the failure was due to exhaust valve sticking.

Probable Cause: the number 1 cylinder exhaust valve fractured and separated resulting in a loss of engine power and an off airport forced landing. A finding in the accident was the owner's failure to maintain the engine in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.



Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
09-Dec-2017 16:05 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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