ANOTHER CESSNA 421 GOES DOWN CLEARLY FROM ENGINE FAILURE ON TAKEOFF KILLING 2
The Cessna 421 cabin class twin engine airplane was the queen of Cessna’s attempt to corner the cabin class piston powered twin market in the 1970’s. It was big and was powered by two of the worst engines in modern piston engine aircraft history, the Continental GTSIO-520.
The G stands for geared, the TS turbo-supercharged, the I injected, the O opposed and the 520, the number of cubic inches of displacement. Virtually everything about this engine was troublesome.
The supercharging ruined cylinders that regularly failed before their overhaul time, the gearing made the cabin quieter but was never up to the job of dealing with all the power demanded of the engine. Engine failures occurred constantly especially on takeoff when the power demand was highest.
Worse the airplane’s exhaust system was made first of stainless steel which is brittle and failed repeatedly causing fires and later Inconel parts which should have resulted in better reliability also were found deficient.
All of the above would have been bad enough but if there were an engine failure especially on takeoff the airplane was a handful to control. It flew sideways and unless airspeed was adequate to avoid the dreaded VMC, the airplane would suddenly roll into the failed engine at astonishingly high-speed dooming all aboard.
Because of these well known and documented inadequacies Cessna 421s became cheap to buy though expensive to maintain properly, very expensive!
In Monterey California, a Cessna 421 departed on a mercy flight and flew into overcast conditions.
Suddenly the aircraft bean turning to the right and ultimately descended, crashed and caught fire. Both the pilot and her passenger were killed. While a turning flight after entering an overcast can be caused by lots of things, failure of the right engine is most likely given the good credentials of the pilot and the history of engine failure in this model.
Careful analysis of the engine wreckage is important here but initially the propellers will tell a lot. When loss of engine power occurs, one propeller is bent differently than the other, a tell-tale sign that a failure of the turbocharger, exhaust components, cylinders or even a crankshaft may be the real culprit.
While the airplane is supposed to be able to climb on one engine, in reality on takeoff that rarely if ever is successful because the single engine climb rate and airspeed was determined in a perfect airplane, flown by a test pilot under ideal conditions who knew the failure was going to be simulated. That isn’t reality.
Engine specialists will be needed to examine these engines in detail but no worries the cause of this crash is mechanical and will be found by lawyers like the Wolk Law Firm. We always do.
Sadly, the pilot, an experienced and well thought of woman Mary Ellen Carlin and her passenger Alice Emig, whom she offered to fly to Sacramento on a mercy flight both perished. Their loss is mourned.
Arthur Alan Wolk
July 21, 2021