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  ECi Cylinder Head Separation In Flight - Pilot Makes Safe Landing


After a happy Meet & Greet with many Beechcraft owners on Saturday November 8th, at Bridgeport, TX (KXBP) to celebrate <$3.00/gallon fuel prices, Ed and Marcia L. continued on their way in their A36 Bonanza, uneventfully, to Ardmore, OK.


Here's Ed, in the khaki trousers, topping off his bird.


Their return south a few days later was anything but uneventful.


Imagine this happening to one of your cylinders in-flight! On second thought, let's not!


Here is Ed's account of what happened:


We had the dreaded "uh-oh" Sunday after we departed from Ardmore, OK, and headed down to the north Dallas area. At 4,500, and at relatively moderate power, our engine cratered. We later found the number 5 cylinder head blew off, disconnected. There was a "bang", the engine immediately ran rough, and the JPI confirmed power loss in the cylinder. Of course, while in the air, we had no idea what had happened, but I sort of reckoned it was a cylinder coming apart. We have ECi cylinders. There's an AD out on the subject, though it doesn't appear to cover our specific cylinders.


Marcia pushed the GPS "nearest" button to locate the nearest airport, which fortunately turned out to be Gainesville, TX (GLE). We were on Center frequency, declared an "emergency" and stayed with them for a couple minutes until we identified GLE, then we switched to GLE Unicom, again declared an emergency asking everyone to stay clear because we were coming in with only limited power. The engine was still running, but we had plenty of altitude and we didn't want to push the power issue. There was a clunking noise.


Our altitude was just fine for the 6.5 nm coast to GLE, and we entered onto base, then turned final, and landed quite normally. The engine provided taxi power to get us to the tie down. We shut it down normally.

Once on the ground, we opened the cowl to find #5 cracked all the way around about 5 fins up from the bottom of the louvers. It had separated by about a third of an inch.


Rick, the airport guy at GLE, was very nice, and a number of other pilots who had heard our call, landed to check on us. There wasn't much to do on Sunday, so we made plans to spend the night and get into it Monday morning.

I did call George Braly on his cell after we landed. George as usual was calming and reassuring. We knew from the moment we saw the injury that we'd turn the final repair over to Tornado Alley, George and Tim Roehl.


The next day, we visited Bill Morrow at Tomlinson Aviation at GLE and his maintenance supervisor Tim Fellegy. Tomlinson is a large and impressive shop on the field. They pulled the plane inside and everyone gathered around as we opened the cowl again for show and tell. Upon seeing the rupture, 3 of the guys said kinda in unison, "do you have ECi cylinders?" We confirmed that we did.


Tomlinson removed the broken cylinder. The good news is that the rings were still attached to the piston, and piston and rings do not appear damaged. We don't believe any metal invaded the remainder of the engine. Tomlinson will be checking closely for that.


Tim Roehl coordinated with Tomlinson, volunteered to ship a serviceable cylinder and parts to Tomlinson which arrived today. Once it's installed, and the engine is serviceable, TAT will ferry N29959 to Ada where it will undergo a top overall, installing new cylinders the TAT way. They'll be Millenniums, new design and manufacture. We've had issues with the old cylinders since they were installed by Ultimate in 2001, and we've decided to put the issue behind us once and for all.


We're very impressed with the helpful manner of the folks at GLE, at Tomlinson and Tornado Alley. We should have N29959 back in the air in about 2 weeks. Our pocketbook will be a bit lighter, but we are fortunate to have been forced down at Gainesville, TX, where there was a fine shop like Tomlinson, to have no further damage or injury, and to have our great friends in Ada resolve this matter.



Ed reports that these cylinders were not the subject of any current AD on ECi cylinders. The mechanics involved in the cylinder removal will be making appropriate agency reports on this cylinder failure.



Here is another ECi cylinder failure from a Canadian crash of an O-360 equipped experimental Glastar aircraft.




TSB Final Report A09P0156—Engine Power Loss-Forced Landing


On June 12, 2009, an amateur-built Glastar was on a recreational flight from Yellowknife, N.W.T., to Kelowna, B.C., with two pilots on board. At approximately 14:01 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), shortly after passing Chetwynd, B.C., a severe powerplant vibration and loss of power was experienced. The engine power was reduced to 1 000 RPM and a forced landing into a field was attempted. On short final, the aircraft struck a power line and veered off course to the right, where it struck trees and rising terrain. The pilot in the left seat received non-life threatening injuries. The pilot in the right seat was fatally injured. There was no emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal and no fire. The switch on the ELT was found in the OFF position.


Examination of the wreckage revealed that the No. 2 cylinder head had separated from the base (see Photo 1) and the crankshaft was severed at the propeller flange. The engine had 212 hr total time since new (TTSN) when the failure occurred.


Read the whole article HERE


NEWS FLASH: 27 February 2012 NTSB Safety Recommendation on ECi Cylinders HERE



Here is another ECi cylinder failure in March 2015 from Bonanza owner Stephen B., of California, in an IO550 TN aircraft.






In March 2015, Stephen reports 115 Hrs SNEW ECi Cylinders were installed, See the whole BeechTalk thread on this near in-flight engine disaster HERE.


An investigation by industry engine gurus is underway.



Here are some additional items to peruse on this topic:


Check out this highly illustrated FILE .


And this FILE: 'ECi Cylinder Head Failures on Continental IO 520 & 550 Engines" a briefing presentation for Dorenda Baker, FAA Director Aircraft Certification Service.


Page 4 of the above file: "The ECi failure rate is 32 times higher than Continental’s"


Far be it from me to project any conclusions, it's just the data that's out there.




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