|Carburetor icing suspected in plane crash that killed Stoney Creek man
A federal aviation safety investigator says an ice-choked carburetor is the likely cause of a single-engine plane crash that killed a Stoney Creek man on the weekend.
John Davidson, a 72-year-old former school board trustee, died Sunday when his home-built twin-seater aircraft crashed and sank in Lake Rosalind, moments from a small airport in Hanover.
Yesterday, Transportation Safety Board investigator Peter Rowntree said Davidson’s Zenair Zenith CH 200 was powerless at the time of the crash, based on the shatter pattern of the plane’s composite propeller blades.
“The evidence is that the engine was not running,” Rowntree said.
Rowntree, who is investigating the crash on behalf of the coroner’s office, said he could not find anything mechanically wrong with the plane. Short of finding an internal reason for engine failure during a forensic examination of the engine this week, Rowntree said he thinks ice built up in the carburetor’s air intake, choking it off until it failed.
With the carburetor choked off, the engine would run increasingly rich until it stalled.
“It’s my No. 1 suspicion,” he said.
It’s often difficult to confirm carburetor icing because the ice tends to melt before investigators can get to a crashed aircraft. An internal engine examination will show if the engine was running too rich to function.
Rowntree said Davidson’s aircraft was equipped with a carburetor heater to prevent icing that must be manually engaged in the cockpit by the pilot. Because the crash ripped the carburetor off the engine and dislodged control wires, investigators are unable to determine if Davidson had turned on the carb heater.
Zenairs are planes that are built from a kit. Davidson bought a functioning Zenair from a man in Peterborough about 20 years ago, said his wife, Ellie.
“It’s been working just fine all these years.”
Unlike planes from manufacturers such as Piper or Cessna that have set maintenance schedules that must be followed, home-built kit planes do not have the same standards of maintenance.
“Because this aircraft is classified as an amateur-built aircraft … there comes the caveat that it may not be maintained in accordance with applicable standards of airworthiness,” TSB’s Rowntree said.
He said that, at this point, he doesn’t know what, if any, maintenance schedule was being followed for Davidson’s plane.
A remembrance service will be held for Davidson on Saturday at 1:30 p.m at Donald Brown Funeral Home on Lake Avenue Drive in Stoney Creek.
News Source thespec.com