They Reviewed Nearby Airports, But None Were Suitable

Location: Moosic, PA Accident Number: ERA20LA322
Date & Time: September 20, 2020, 20:47 Local Registration: N3790T
Aircraft: Piper PA28R Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:

On September 20, 2020, about 2047 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N3790T, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Moosic, Pennsylvania. The pilot sustained a serious injury while the pilot rated passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot rated passenger seated in the left seat stated that she was the pilot-in-command (PIC) at the initiation of the flight. Before departure with full fuel tanks she performed an engine run-up with no discrepancies reported. The flight departed and after takeoff with visual flight rules flight following climbed to 8,500 ft mean sea level. The airplane owner reported while climbing he leaned the fuel to air ratio slightly, operating the engine rich of peak (ROP). While established in cruise flight he attempted to lean the fuel to air ratio to operate the engine between 75° and 100° ROP, which the PIC at that time indicated he could not obtain the optimal numbers. The airplane owner indicated that when the flight was about 30 miles from Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport (AVP), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, she pointed out to him that the engine monitor was indicating that he could not obtain the desired ROP setting and asked him if she should adjust the fuel to air ratio. He indicated no and enrichened the mixture and looked at the engine monitor and noted the No. 2 cylinder exhaust gas temperature had decreased about 1/2 of its value.

They both felt a vibration and positive control of the airplane was transferred to the right seat occupant as had been agreed before departure. The left seat occupant declared an emergency with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control, and they reviewed nearby airports, but none were suitable. The PIC elected to proceed to AVP and maintained 100 miles-per-hour (best glide speed) while flying towards AVP. During the descent the left seat occupant advised the PIC that they were losing the second cylinder (No. 1 position). The partial loss of engine power checklist was performed, and the flight continued towards AVP. The left seat occupant reported that the oil pressure went to zero, though the oil temperature was OK, and she reported smoke which she attributed to be from fire and called that out to the PIC. Both reported that the engine rpm went past maximum redline with the PIC indicating it was not controlled by the propeller control. Both realized the flight would not reach AVP and the pilot turned to the right towards a parking lot but realized there was a tall building between their position and the parking lot. He then maneuvered for a forced landing to a residential street and attempted to extend the landing gear but neither saw three green landing gear down and locked lights. Before touchdown he saw a flash of light consistent with collision with a powerline. Neither occupant recalled the impact sequence. Both were taken to a hospital for either injury treatment of for examination. 

The accident site was located about 1.8 nm and 019° from the approach end of runway 22 at AVP. Preliminary examination of the engine revealed the No. 2 cylinder assembly was separated from the engine crankcase and engine oil was noted covering the lower engine cowling. There was no evidence of pre or postimpact fire. The airplane was temporarily recovered to a local facility pending relocation to an airplane salvage facility for formal examination of the engine.