Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Maryland Heights, Mo. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: A witness, who saw the airplane approaching the airport for a night landing, remarked that the engine sounded like it was sputtering. He thought the pilot was attempting to land on the beach of a nearby lake. The airplane hit the water and cartwheeled before sinking.
After the accident, a test run of the engine was conducted and the engine started and ran at various power settings.
The temperature and dew point about the time of the accident indicated that the airplane was operating in conditions that were conducive to serious icing at glide power. The pilot was in an extended descent and most likely had the power on the engine reduced for the descent.
Although the carburetor heat was found on, it is unknown when the pilot activated the carburetor heat. The engine controls were in positions consistent with an attempt to restart the engine; it is likely that the loss of engine power was due to carburetor ice and that the carburetor heat was not activated until after the engine began to lose power.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to activate the carburetor heat while operating in conditions conducive to carburetor icing, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to carburetor ice.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA030
This October 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.