Carb icing contributes to crash

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The pilot reported that, as the Cessna 172 approached the runway at the airport in Houston after a short personal flight, the engine lost power.

He checked the fuel valve, mixture, and engaged the starter, but engine power was not restored.

The airplane was “headed directly toward a concrete revetment on the south bank” of a creek, so he banked the airplane left, and it subsequently landed in the creek.

During recovery of the airplane, the fuel selector was found in the “both” position, and the throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat controls were found in the “forward” (off) position.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The atmospheric conditions at the time that the engine lost power were conducive to serious icing at any power, moderate icing at cruise power, and serious icing at descent power. Given the evidence, it is likely that carburetor ice accumulated during the flight and the pilot did apply carburetor heat, which resulted in a loss of all engine power.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to apply carburetor heat while operating in an area conducive to carburetor icing, which resulted in a total loss of engine power on approach and subsequent forced landing into a creek.

NTSB Identification: CEN19LA015

This October 2018 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.

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