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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ANC15FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, August 06, 2015 in Chugiak, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N3675P
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot and his sole passenger were on a personal cross-country flight between two Alaskan communities. The destination airport was located along the shores of an inlet waterway, and the airplane's intended approach would have been over the water. About 3 hours after the flight departed, the pilot issued a distress call, which was received by state law enforcement. The pilot stated that the airplane had crashed in the water, and he requested immediate rescue, adding that he was too far from shore to swim. The airplane was located the next morning about 1.8 miles from the destination airport almost completely submerged in water. When the airplane was recovered, neither of the occupants were inside. About 2 weeks later, the passenger’s body was recovered. The pilot’s body was not recovered.
Recovered GPS data revealed that, during the last 10 minutes of the flight, the airplane climbed to a peak altitude of 1,549 ft mean sea level (msl) while traveling a distance of about 6 nautical miles (nm) and then began a descent that averaged about 176 ft per minute (fpm). About 3 nm from the destination airport, the airplane’s descent rate increased to an average of about 890 fpm, and the airplane then entered a slight right, southerly turn toward the nearest point of land. The last data point showed the airplane at 29 ft msl and less than 1 mile from the closest point of land.
A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. An aviation weather reporting station located 2 miles southeast of the accident site reported weather conditions about the time of the accident that were conducive to moderate carburetor icing at cruise power or serious icing at glide power. However, the investigation could not determine whether carburetor icing caused the loss of engine power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.