Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Piper PA-28-181 Arrow II, N5646V, accident occurred March 13, 2018 at Chesapeake Regional Airport (KCPK), Norfolk, Virginia

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


Location: Chesapeake, VA
Accident Number: ERA18LA101
Date & Time: 03/13/2018, 1130 EDT
Registration: N5646V
Aircraft: PIPER PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The private pilot was conducting touch-and-go landings; the airplane was about 200 ft above ground level after a takeoff when the engine lost total power. The pilot cycled the throttle during the straight-ahead descent, which restored power momentarily before the forced landing. During the ground roll, the nose landing gear separated, and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. A postaccident test run of the engine using the fuel available in the airplane’s tanks and the intact fuel system revealed that the engine operated normally with no anomalies noted. The weather conditions at the time of the accident were conducive to the formation of serious carburetor icing at descent engine power settings. The pilot stated that he had not activated the carburetor heat at any point during the flight. Because the engine operated normally after the accident, the weather conditions were conducive to the formation of carburetor icing, and the pilot failed to use carburetor heat during the approach, it is likely that the engine lost power due to the accumulation of carburetor ice before and during the takeoff.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to apply carburetor heat during the approach for a touch-and-go landing, which resulted in a total loss of engine power during the subsequent takeoff.


Intake anti-ice, deice - Not used/operated (Cause)

Personnel issues
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)
Identification/recognition - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Conducive to carburetor icing - Effect on equipment (Cause)

Factual Information

On March 13, 2018, about 1130 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181, N5646V, was substantially damaged during a forced landing shortly after takeoff from Chesapeake Regional Airport (CPK), Chesapeake, Virginia. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot described completing the preflight inspection, run-up, takeoff, and one circuit in the airport traffic pattern with no anomalies noted. He performed a touch-and-go landing on runway 23, and when the airplane had climbed to about 200 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The pilot elected to land straight ahead off the departure end of the runway, and cycled the throttle during the descent, which only restored power momentarily before the forced landing was completed.

During the ground run, the nose landing gear separated, and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the wing structure and the fuselage.

In a telephone interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot provided an account that was consistent with his written statement. He provided greater detail about the positions of the fuel selector, fuel boost pump switch, mixture control, and his use and positioning of engine and flight controls throughout the flight. When asked at what point he had applied carburetor heat, the pilot replied that he did not apply carburetor heat at any point during the flight.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued January 9, 2017. The pilot reported 188.1 total hours of flight experience, of which 139.8 were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1977. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed at 3,618 total aircraft hours.

At 1115, the weather reported at CPK included clear skies, 10 miles visibility, and winds from 290 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 21 knots. The temperature was 6° C, the dew point was -4° C, and the altimeter setting was 29.87 inches of mercury.

A review of atmospheric conditions at CPK at the time of the accident revealed conditions conducive to formation of "serious" carburetor icing at descent engine power settings.

The wreckage was examined at the operator's facility by the FAA inspector who confirmed the damage and noted that the remainder of the airplane was intact. He raised the nose of the airplane by anchoring the tail, and an engine start was attempted using the airplane's own battery, fuel system, and the fuel present in the fuel tanks. The engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously without interruption. Magneto and carburetor heat checks were performed, and the results were within the manufacturer's parameters.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 25, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/09/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  188.1 hours (Total, all aircraft), 139.8 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N5646V
Model/Series: PA28 181
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-7790487
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/16/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 19 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3618 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360 SER
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCPK, 20 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1115 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 321°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 12 knots / 21 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 290°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C / -4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Chesapeake, VA (CPK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Chesapeake, VA (CPK)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 18 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Soft; Vegetation; Water--calm
Runway Used: 23
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5500 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing; Touch and Go

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  36.665556, -76.320556 (est)


  1. This plane in an Archer, not an Arrow. I learned to fly in Warriors & Archers and never was told to apply carb heat for landing. When I asked why not I was told the way the induction system on Pipers is designed, it never ices up at glide power settings. Can anyone else verify if this is correct? I was told that if you notice a gradual decrease in rpm at cruise and you increase the throttle only to see another decrease in rpm, to use the carb heat. This is news to me!

  2. I had heard the same thing when I started flying and then instructing in the PA-28 series back in the 70's. The popular misconception at the time more accurately identified the Lycoming engines as not needing carburetor heat which was installed in the Pipers.

    With the Lycoming, the intakes pass through the oil pan heating the fuel/air mixture and the carb attachment heats the carb somewhat through conduction. The thinking was [incorrectly] that this heating prevented carb ice.

    Remember that the ice forms on the butterfly in the carburetor and is affected little by this mounting arrangement.

    Our flight school was very effective at dispelling the myth and enforced use of the carb heat religiously.

    I did experience significant carb ice once in a 140. Instrument student in IMC while holding on a nice summer day. Full throttle, carb heat, adjust power then lean ... Took care of the problem.

  3. They don’t ice up except when they do. My tripacer with lycoming never showed sighs of icing. While my champ with c-85 ices up all of the time. recently while on the ground waiting for takeoff clearance, the old tripacer started icing up. Other pilots that particular day said they had more than usual trouble with carb icing. I now always check carb heat on the lycoming on downwind.


  4. What does the POH say?

    After checking says

    "Carburetor heat on (if required)".

    "Carburetor heat on (if required)".

    As mentioned above, carb heat can be required even in slow cruise at times.

    Just do it.

  5. After investigating this subject on the internet, I think I'll have to modify the way I was taught when flying the Warrior & Archer. I think I'll pull the carb heat when abeam the numbers on downwind, throttle back to 1700 rpm, 1 notch of flaps, trim for 70 kts, turn base, add another notch flaps, trim for 70, turn final, last notch of flaps, trim for 70, GUMPS check. If I have to do a go around I'll have to remember to put carb heat to cold.

  6. Jim B my POH says nothing about applying carb heat while on the ground awaiting clearance. Maybe you can help find this for me, thanks


  7. I looked for a POH of comprable origin (1976) and found one at:

    - paragraph 4.19, sentence 4 talks about carb heat after taxi to verify no ice accumulation.

    Our -180 has an IO-360 Lycoming and the -201T has the TIO-360 Continental. Both fuel injected. We have a couple of other carb birds and I spent $ putting carb throat thermocouples in both for safety, provided the pilot is looking....