Poor maintenance brings down Cessna

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 2 Minor. Location: Pompano Beach, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, the airplane was descending on final approach when the throttle control became stuck on idle.

Attempts to restore power were unsuccessful and the pilot made a forced landing on a road. The airplane hit a lightpost.

The post-accident examination revealed that the throttle cable had separated from its housing/end fitting. As a result, the throttle cable could not actuate the control, and the engine remained at idle rpm.

A review of the airframe and engine logbooks revealed that the throttle cable was not maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s service manual.

Probable cause: The separation of the throttle cable from its fitting, which resulted in an inability to control engine power. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate maintenance by the owner.

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA058


This November 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Tom says

    Shouldn’t you be able to make the runway from most places in the traffic pattern (except after take off)? Why did he pull the power to idle without being able to make the runway (assuming that when the power was pulled the cable broke)? Another reason to make a “stable” approach, yes? Did he ever do engine out procedures on a 2 year flight review? Was his medical certificate current (that was probably the problem – NOT)?

    • Greg W says

      Indeed, even if an extended downwind was required for spacing, pattern altitude should be held until a normal decent/glide path can be started. With a normal runway there are few reasons to not fly the top of the glide path and be certain of making the runway, we can always loose altitude but can’t always get it back. The throttle cable was a problem, the engine at idle with insufficient altitude to make the runway is what resulted in landing short on a road, the destroyed airplane and injuries.

  2. Bluestar says

    Amazing all the components within an aircraft that must be inspected, sometimes a small item can be missed and result in this situation or worse. Bet those that read this will be examining their throttle components if they haven’t lately.
    This is why the engineer follows a checklist.

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