“The Conditions… Were Favorable For Serious Carburetor Icing At A Glide Power Setting”

Location: Bridgeton, New Jersey Accident Number: ERA22FA426
Date & Time: September 19, 2022, 13:48 Local Registration: N2716E 
Aircraft: Champion AERONCA 7AC Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

A final report regarding the fatal spin of an Aeronca Champ (File Photo, Below) in September 2022 has been released, with suspicion given to carb ice during the initial climbput.

The crash killed both the pilot and passenger-pilot not long after departure, when the 7AC Champion they were flying crashed into the ground 500 feet from the runway threshold. Bystanders said the aircraft had been climbing at a steep angle before entering a descending left turn. Given the conditions at the time, the NTSB believes it’s most likely that the aircraft had been afflicted by carburetor icing, leading to a stall and spin upon climbout. 

“Nevertheless,” the report reads, “the conditions about the time of the accident, given the temperature and dew point, were favorable for serious carburetor icing at a glide power setting. Given this information, it is possible that during the ground operation, when the engine would typically be operating at low power, carburetor ice formed. This could have resulted in at least a partial loss of engine power during the initial climb. The available evidence for this investigation did not indicate whether or not the pilot applied carburetor heat before or during the flight.”

The Champ isn’t an aircraft that has a surplus of thrust by any means, which means every missing pony is deeply felt when taking off with carb icing. 

“The witness reports of the airplane briefly climbing at a steep angle, the video showing the airplane in a steep descending left turn, as well as the signatures observed on the wreckage (aft crushing of the forward portion of the fuselage, the relatively uniform aft crush damage on the leading edges of both wings, and damage consistent with a relatively low energy state at the time of impact) were all consistent with the airplane encountering an aerodynamic stall before it impacted the ground. Given that there were no anomalies observed with the airplane’s flight controls during the postaccident wreckage examination, it is likely that the pilot exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack at an altitude too low to recover, which resulted in the subsequent loss of control and impact with terrain.”

FMI: www.ntsb.gov