NTSB Identification: CHI98FA048.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, November 25, 1997 in TOPEKA, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/07/1999
Aircraft: Cessna 172E, registration: N5332T
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
During a cross-country flight, the Cessna 172's Continental O-300D engine began to run rough. The pilot applied carburetor heat which improved engine performance. After a second recurrence, he then made a precautionary landing to check the airplane and found nothing unusual. He decided to continue the flight using partial carburetor heat. He resumed the flight and, according to the surviving passenger, said he would continue with the 'carburetor heat on one-quarter way.' Shortly thereafter, the engine again began to run rough. The pilot was unable to correct for the condition and eventually the engine suffered a loss of all power. A forced landing was initiated under dark night conditions. During the final phase of the descent, the airplane impacted a transmission line and then terrain. Subsequent examination of the airplane, and a successful test run of the engine failed to reveal any mechanical anomalies other than those associated with the impact with the wire and the terrain. FAA Advisory Circular AC 20-113 dated October 22, 1981, states in part under the title 'In-flight Winter Weather Conditions,' and the sub title, 'Prevention Procedures'... 'When no carburetor air or mixture temperature instrumentation is available, the general practice with smaller engines should be to use full heat whenever carburetor heat is applied.'
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's improper use of carburetor heat. Contributing factors were carburetor icing conditions, dark night conditions, and the transmission wire. Full narrative available
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