NTSB Identification: CEN12LA216
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 30, 2012 in Arcola, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/09/2012
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N800KA
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, there were no mechanical anomalies noted as he completed his preflight inspection or during cruise flight. However, the airplane experienced a sudden loss of engine power during the turn from the downwind leg to the base leg in the traffic pattern at the intended destination. The engine did not respond to throttle movements, and the application of carburetor heat did not improve engine performance. The pilot reported that there was insufficient altitude remaining to safely glide to the runway, and, as such, he performed a forced landing in a nearby drainage ditch. The nose landing gear collapsed during the landing.

A postaccident examination revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal engine operation. The carburetor heat cockpit control was found in the ON position, and its movement confirmed continuity to the heat-box assembly. Although a carburetor-icing probability chart indicated that there was a serious risk of carburetor ice accumulation while operating at reduced engine power settings, such as during traffic pattern operations, the postaccident investigation could not determine if carburetor ice contributed to the loss of engine power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

A total loss of engine power during landing approach for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Full narrative available

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