Plane’s engine cut out as it approached HIA in October, pilot says

The pilot of a small-single engine plane that went into the Susquehanna River on October 4 told officials that he made a water landing because the engine cut out, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The plane, which took off from Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), was approaching Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) when it happened.

“I pitched for best glide speed as I tried to restart the engine, advanced the power, and switched fuel tanks, none of which worked,” he said in a written statement. “We were losing altitude quickly. I retracted the gear and prepared for a water landing. I advised the tower that we were not going to make the runway.”

He estimated that the plane touched down one to two miles from the runway.

The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries.

The plane was removed from the Susquehanna River on October 16 by a helicopter.

The NTSB issued the following when officials examined the plane:

  • Examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane was intact, but that the fuselage was deformed aft of the cabin door. Both wings were cut at their roots by recovery personnel. Prior to removal of the wings, each wing was drained of fuel and water. The left wing contained 12.5 gallons of fuel and 10 gallons of water. The right wing contained 17 gallons of fuel and 15 gallons of water.
  • Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight controls to all flight control surfaces. Fuel system continuity was confirmed from the roots of each wing to the fuel metering unit. Electrical power was applied to the fuel boost pumps in each wing, and both operated when energized.
  • The engine spark plugs were removed from the top of each cylinder. Each spark plug displayed normal wear and evidence of exposure to water. The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller; both magneto impulse couplings “snapped,” and spark was produced at the ignition leads of the top six spark plugs.

You can read the full report below:

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