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On the morning of 16 June 2016, a student and instructor planned to conduct a training flight in a Piper PA-28-161 aircraft, registered VH-IPO, from Mangalore Airport, Victoria.

The planned flight included time in the Mangalore training area before returning to the airport for circuit training.

After completing the training area manoeuvres, the instructor noticed the tachometer indicated a slightly lower engine power output than expected for the selected throttle position. The instructor suspected carburettor icing and applied carburettor heat. This resulted in an immediate further drop in power. After 10–15 seconds the power level returned to normal and the instructor elected to return to Mangalore.

At Mangalore, the student joined the circuit for runway 36. Due to traffic in the circuit, the student conducted two go-arounds. During the third circuit the student prepared the aircraft for another approach. As the student prepared to turn onto the base leg, they applied carburettor heat. At that time, the instructor observed a large drop in power. The instructor then took control of the aircraft and immediately turned onto the base leg. During the turn, the engine failed.

As the aircraft descended toward runway 36, the instructor assessed that they did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the runway. The instructor identified a field as suitable for a forced landing. As the aircraft descended the instructor conducted the shutdown checklist and landed the aircraft in the selected field.

The instructor and student were not injured in the incident and the aircraft was not damaged.

This incident highlights the insidious nature of carburettor icing and the speed with which carburettor icing can occur in favourable environmental conditions. The incident also reinforces the need for pilots to be aware of the risk of carburettor icing at all times during the operation of aircraft fitted with a carburettor.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin- Issue 52

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General details
Date: 16 June 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 11:14 EST  
Location   (show map):near Mangalore Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 28 September 2016 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-28-161 
Aircraft registration: VH-IPO 
Serial number: 28-7816627 
Type of operation: Flying Training 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Mangalore, Vic.
Destination:Mangalore, Vic.
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Last update 18 April 2017