ERA12LA410
ERA12LA410

On June 22, 2012, about 1705 eastern daylight time, a Piper J5A, N40985, was presumed substantially damaged following ditching into the Atlantic Ocean, about 12 miles off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the aerial observation flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Beverly Municipal Airport (BVY), Beverly, Massachusetts, about 1115.

According to the pilot, topped-off the airplane’s fuel tanks, performed a preflight inspection, and noted no anomalies. He then departed the airport and completed the aerial observation mission over the Atlantic Ocean. After about 5.8 total flight hours, and, while returning to BVY, the engine began to “surge.” The pilot unsuccessfully attempted to restore the engine to full power by applying carburetor heat, and with no immediate changes, he turned the carburetor heat off. The pilot also attempted to use the engine primer, which briefly restored partial power, but soon after the engine lost power completely. He noted that there were about five gallons of fuel on board when the engine lost power. The pilot subsequently ditched the airplane, and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard around 1800.The airplane sank into the Atlantic Ocean, was not recovered, and was therefore presumed substantially damaged.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multiengine land, and airplane multiengine sea. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on May 19, 2012. He reported 4,437 total hours of flight time, of which, 91 were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1941, and was registered to the pilot in November 2011. According to the pilot, the airplane’s most recent annual inspection was in October 2011. The airplane had accumulated about 450 total flight hours. The pilot stated that the airplane maintenance logbooks were on board the airplane and subsequently sank with the wreckage; therefore, they could not be reviewed. The pilot also stated that the airplane’s Continental Motors A-75 series engine consumed about 3.5 gallons of fuel per hour during routine cruise flight.

According to airworthiness records maintained by the FAA, the airplane was originally equipped with a Continental Motors A-75-8 engine, which was replaced in December of 1956 with a Continental Motors A-80 series engine. The Type Certificate Data Sheet for the airplane specified that it had a total fuel capacity of 25 gallons. The airplane was equipped two wing fuel tanks, with a capacity for 8 gallons each, and a header fuel tank with a capacity for 7 gallons.

According to the Continental Motors Maintenance and Overhaul manual, the A-80 series engine consumes an average 5.2 gallons of fuel per hour at cruising engine rpm, which can range from 3.5 to 6.5 gallons of fuel per hour.

The weather reported 1700 by a Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems maintained buoy, located approximately 7 nautical miles southeast of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and 7 nautical miles from the accident location, included wind from 164 degrees at 8 knots and a temperature of 23.3 degrees C. No dewpoint information was recorded by the buoy.

The weather reported at BVY, located about 21 nautical miles from accident location, at 2053, included wind from 290 at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 6,500 feet and 9,000 feet, temperature 33 degrees C, dewpoint 19 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.67 inches of mercury.

According to FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB): CE-09-35 Carburetor Icing Prevention, June 30, 2009, given the temperature and dew point reported at BVY around the time of the accident were conducive to the formation of carburetor ice at cruise/glide power settings.

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