Harrison Ford plane crash caused by problem with carburettor part
Published 06/08/2015 | 20:03
A problem with a carburettor part led to engine failure and the crash of a vintage plane piloted by actor Harrison Ford in California, federal safety investigators have concluded.
The part known as a main metering jet probably came loose over the years after the plane was restored, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
The problem allowed too much fuel to flow, resulting in a loss of engine power.
Ford had just taken off from Santa Monica Airport on March 5 when he reported engine failure and requested an immediate return.
The single-engine Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR struck a tree, however, and crashed on a golf course, injuring the actor.
The NTSB also found that an improperly installed shoulder harness probably contributed to the severity of his injuries.
In an interview with the lead NTSB investigator, Ford "stated that he did not attempt an engine restart but maintained an airspeed of 85mph and initiated a left turn back towards the airport; however, during the approach, he realised that the plane was unable to reach the runway. The pilot did not recall anything further about the accident sequence".
The aircraft hit a tree and crashed on a golf course about 800ft from the runway. No one on the ground was hurt.
Ford, who received his pilot's licence in the 1990s, was conscious and able to talk to rescue crews who transported him to hospital. His injuries were never detailed. The actor's son Ben tweeted just after the crash that his father was "battered" but OK.
The metering jet system is intended to maintain the proper mixture of fuel and air over the engine's operating speeds, the NTSB said.
A review of maintenance records indicated that the carburettor was rebuilt during the plane's restoration about 17 years ago. Contributing to the accident was the lack of adequate instructions on how to maintain the carburettor, the NTSB said.
"Had the carburettor maintenance instruction manual identified a means to ensure the security of the main metering jet, it is unlikely that the jet would have become unseated," the report said. "There was no record of maintenance personnel inspecting the carburettor jets during the previous 17 years nor was there a requirement to do so."
The two-seat plane, which was called the PT-22 Recruit when it was used as a US army training aircraft, was intentionally designed to mimic the flight characteristics of larger war planes.
Ford will reprise his role as Han Solo in the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.