Airplane Suddenly Began To Vibrate Severely… Followed By A Marginal Reduction In Engine RPM

Location: Centerville, MD Accident Number: ERA20LA341
Date & Time: September 28, 2020, 18:00 Local Registration: N562TU
Aircraft: Tecnam P92 Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Instructional

On September 28, 2020, about 1800 eastern daylight time, a Tecnam P92 airplane, N562TU, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Centerville, Maryland. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

According to the flight instructor, he and a student pilot were flying straight and level, about 1,700 feet above mean sea level, on a southwest heading, 10 to 12 miles from Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Stevensville, Maryland, when the airplane suddenly began to vibrate severely. This was followed by a marginal reduction in engine rpm from about 5,100 rpm to 4,500 rpm.

The flight instructor then took over the flight controls from the student pilot and manipulated the throttle control to see if a different power setting would reduce the vibrations. There was no discernable result and movement of the throttle control did not elicit a corresponding response from the engine. The flight instructor then ensured that the fuel valves were all on (they were) and turned on the electric fuel pump. There still were no changes to the vibrations or power.

Assessing the situation as an impending engine failure, the flight instructor configured the airplane for best glide speed, turned towards the nearest field, for a potential forced landing, and made a “Mayday” transmission. About 1-minute later, the engine stopped, and they were gliding towards the field that he had selected.

He attempted to restart the engine, but the engine would not even crank when the starter was engaged, and all the avionics in the airplane shutdown. This was very concerning to him as the master switch was still on, and he needed the speed and altitude indications as well as the wing flaps. About 30 seconds later, all the displays came back on, he configured for landing, aligned with the longest portion of the field, and touched down uneventfully in soybean plants that were being grown in the field.

As the airplane slowed, the airplane’s nose dropped to the ground, the nose wheel landing gear dug into the soft earth and grass, tore off, and the airplane slid on the forward portion of the fuselage belly, until the nose of the airplane dug in, and the airplane slowly nosed over.

Preliminary examination by a federal Aviation Administration inspector, revealed that the airplane had sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing.

The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.