On January 16, 2005, about 1845 eastern standard time, an experimental RV-6A, N654PJ, registered to and operated by a private individual, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, lost engine power while on approach to land at the Orlando Sanford International Airport, Sanford, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The private rated pilot and private rated pilot/passenger reported no injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight originated from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, Florida, earlier that day, about 1815.

The pilot stated that when he was approximately 10 miles out from Sanford he completed the landing checklist but, because of air traffic control (ATC) vectoring and changing of airspeed, he left the carburetor heat cold. At 5 miles out from Sanford he decreased airspeed to 80 miles per hour, lowered the flaps, trimmed the airplane and flew the ILS approach to runway 27R, but does not recall using carburetor heat. He had the runway insight at 1/3 miles and with an altitude of 200 feet, he says the engine sputtered several times and then lost power. He switched to the right fuel tank with no response. He advised ATC that the engine was out and he was going to land short of runway 27R. He continued to control the airplane until the airplane hit a treetop that spun the airplane 180 degrees clockwise. The airplane came to rest on its landing gear between a row of trees. The passenger and himself exited the airplane, and immediately found rescue crews on seen.

An employee from the engine manufacturer of the accident airplane, who assisted the FAA during the postaccident investigation observed the fuel system was compromised, but a residual amount of fuel was found in the fuel supply lines to the engine. The fuel gasolator was checked and found clean. The fuel system lines were disconnected and contained clean blue aviation fuel. The inlet screen to the carburetor was clean. The fuel pump produced fuel flow when the engine was rotated. No stains were observed to indicate leaks from the engine. Further examination of the engine revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have prevented the engine from developing power prior to the accident.

The responding FAA accident inspector stated the airplane incurred substantial damage when it collided with trees when it landed short of runway 27R. The engine inspection conducted by the engine manufacturer revealed no problems to be associated with the engine. A weather report from the National Whether Service Office showed conditions around the Sanford area at the time of the accident to be conducive to carburetor icing. The pilot stated he did not turn on the carburetor heat during the landing approach.

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