NTSB releases report on Makaha plane crash

NTSB releases report on Makaha plane crash
Updated: May. 30, 2017 at 9:16 AM HST
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MAKAHA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One year after a pilot was forced to ditch his single-engine plane in the waters off Makaha Beach Park, NTSB investigators have released their final report on what caused the crash.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board have determined an icy carburetor due to weather conditions caused the total loss of engine power. However, the report says if the pilot had kept the carburetor heat on or applied it earlier, the crash could have been avoided.

The morning of the accident on May 23, 2016, eyewitnesses on board a snorkeling tour boat described the crash like a scene out of a movie, saying they could tell something was wrong with the plane from the way it looked and sounded right before it fell out of the sky.

The pilot, Eric Kawamoto, and his passenger and wife, Leslie, were not seriously injured. Emergency services officials say they were able to get out of the plane safely on their own and clung to its wings before a Good Samaritan on a jet ski and several lifeguards manning the Makaha Beach stand assisted them to shore.

Officials say the plane crashed 20 minutes into its flight from Lihue, Kauai to Kalaeloa Airport. The 56-year-old pilot told investigators he was having trouble with his Beechcraft Sundowner from the moment he took off and the single-engine began to run roughly once he was over open ocean water. Kawamoto reportedly decided to continue his flight after applying carburetor heat, which resolved the issue temporarily. About 40 yards off Makaha Beach Park, the engine started to lose significant power and attempts to apply more carburetor heat did not work, so the pilot was forced to ditch the plane in the water.

The airplane wreckage was recovered from the water three days after sinking in the accident and officials say there was no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures.

According to the NTSB, Kawamoto had 224 flight hours prior to the crash. The plane had not previously been involved in any other incidents.

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