A LIGHT aircraft which struck a tree as it came in to land killing a Blackburn father might have had ice on the carburettor, an investigation has concluded.
Iain Nuttall, 37, suffered fatal injuries when the Piper Cherokee aeroplane he was a passenger in lost power and crashed as they flew from Blackpool to Caernarfon in Wales.
His five-year-old son Daniel and father John, 61, a seasoned pilot from Haslingden, were freed from the destroyed four-seater aircraft and were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Daniel had dozens of stitches closing a deep wound running across the bridge of his nose into both eye sockets.
A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has found there was no evidence of failure within the engine, but that the atmospheric conditions were ‘conductive to carburettor icing’.
The report author said: “The aircraft was seen by several witnesses to get very low on the final approach and to be flying slow.
“The aircraft struck a tree and dropped to the ground in a steep nose-down attitude.”
One witness reported that the engine was ‘trying to pick up and popping’ and he had the impression the pilot may have pumped the throttle three or four times.
Another said they heard the engine ‘spluttering’ and that it seemed to backfire.
A post-mortem examination was carried out following the accident, which found there was evidence to suggest Iain, a former soldier in the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment, had not been restrained by either a lap or shoulder harness at the time of the accident.
The AAIB report concluded the first John had known of any problems was when the engine started to fail.
He said: “The pilot was familiar with the route and the weather conditions were suitable for the flight.
“The flight proceeded without incident until the latter stages of the approach when he attempted to add power, but the engine did not respond.”