Carb icing brings down LSA

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The sport pilot reported that, while nearing his destination airport after a cross-country flight in the Cessna E162, he reduced the engine rpm from 2,350 to 2,200 and began a slow descent from a cruise altitude of 3,500 feet mean sea level (msl) to a traffic pattern altitude of 2,800 feet msl.

He added that the carburetor heat was not on at that time. About two minutes later, he noticed the engine had lost all power without any roughness or sputtering.

He turned on the carburetor heat, positioned the mixture to full rich, and confirmed that the fuel shutoff valve was not engaged. However, the engine did not respond, so he conducted a forced landing to a field near Franklin, N.C. During the forced landing, the right wing hit a fence, and the plane came to rest inverted. The pilot sustained minor injuries in the crash.

Post-accident examination of the airplane and the engine revealed no evidence of any preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and the engine was successfully test run.

The atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident were conducive to serious carburetor icing at cruise power, and the Pilot’s Operating Handbook Descent Checklist instructed pilots to apply carburetor heat, as required, during descent.

It is likely that carburetor ice accumulated during cruise flight and that the pilot applied the carburetor heat too late to melt the ice, which resulted in the loss of engine power. The pilot stated that he did not fully understand the potentially subtle nature of carburetor ice.

Probable cause: The pilot’s delay in applying carburetor heat, which resulted in a total loss of engine power during descent due to carburetor icing.

NTSB Identification: ERA19TA051

This November 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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