Pilot Lands Safely After Crank Failure

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The 2005 Cessna 172S that shed its propeller while climbing out from St. Augustine (Fla.) Airport last Tuesday had a crankshaft failure, the NTSB said in its preliminary report. The airplane total time at the time of the incident was 399.3 hours. A pilot had landed the airplane at St. Augustine on Monday, reportedly after the engine began to run rough. On Tuesday, a commercial pilot checked the airplane over and tried several run-ups, finding no discrepancies. The pilot took off at about 1 p.m. in VFR conditions, to ferry the airplane to New Smyrna Beach, the NTSB said. During the initial climb at 500 feet, the engine rpm decreased from 2,390 to 2,200. The pilot advised the tower controller of the loss of power and had turned to return to the airport when he heard a loud noise and the engine and engine cowling began to vibrate. He put it down safely on a taxiway. The pilot was unhurt and the airplane was not damaged in the landing. A preliminary examination of the airplane by the company director of maintenance found that the crankshaft was fractured inside the crankcase at the oil transfer tube location. The separated propeller with a section of propeller flange was found on a runway at the airport.