NTSB Identification: ERA12LA410
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 22, 2012 in Atlantic Ocean, AO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: PIPER J5A, registration: N40985
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot filled the airplaneā€™s fuel tanks before departing on the over-ocean aerial observation flight. About 5.8 hours into the flight, while the pilot was returning to the departure airport, the engine began losing power. The pilot attempted to restore engine power using carburetor heat and the engine primer but was unsuccessful, so he ditched the airplane in the ocean about 21 miles from the destination airport. The airplane subsequently sank and was not recovered; therefore, no postaccident examination of the engine or airframe could be conducted. Although no information was available regarding the dew point conditions near the accident site, according to a Federal Aviation Administration carburetor icing probability chart, the temperature and dew point at the destination airport were conducive to the formation of carburetor ice at cruise/glide power settings. Postaccident fuel consumption calculations based on information published by the engine manufacturer showed that the airplane had a potential fuel endurance of between 3.8 and 7.1 hours depending on power setting, with an average endurance of 4.8 hours. The pilot estimated that the airplane contained about 5 gallons of fuel when the engine lost power. Because the airplane sank, the investigation was not able to conclusively determine the reason for the loss of engine power.

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

A loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because the aircraft sank after ditching and was not recovered.

Full narrative available

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