On April 24, 1997, about 1020 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-38-112, N6299A, registered to Tampa Flying Service, Inc., operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight in the vicinity of Tampa, Florida, and crashed during a forced landing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained substantial damage and the airline transport-rated certified flight instructor and non-rated student pilot reported no injuries. The flight originated from Peter O. Knight Airport, Tampa, Florida, about 3 minutes before the accident.

The flight instructor stated that about 3 minutes after takeoff, while in cruise flight at 1,100 feet, with the engine set to 2,200 rpm, the engine suddenly lost power. Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful and a forced landing was made in a field, at which time the aircraft collided with a fence. At the time of engine failure, he was operating on the right fuel tank which contained about 11 gallons of fuel. After the engine failure, he switched to the left fuel tank which contained about 10 gallons of fuel. After the accident all fuel leaked from the ruptured left tank.

After recovery of the aircraft from the field the engine was tested under supervision of an FAA inspector. The engine was started and operated to full power by supplying fuel from the right fuel line and then the left fuel line. No evidence of failure or malfunction was noted. The carburetor heat operated normally during this time and each magneto operated normally. Examination of the carburetor showed the shutoff needle valve was installed incorrectly. Testing of the carburetor showed it operated normally and the incorrect installation did not effect the operation of the carburetor.

A review of carburetor icing probability curves showed the aircraft was not operating in conditions conducive to serious carburetor icing at the time of engine failure.

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