A carburetor malfunction led to the loss of engine power in the Ryan PT-22 flown by Harrison Ford when he made a forced landing in March, the NTSB said Thursday in its probable cause report. The board also cited faulty shoulder harness hardware that contributed to Ford’s multiple injuries. The actor and pilot was hospitalized after the accident, which occurred March 5 after taking off from Santa Monica Airport. Shortly after departing Runway 21, he reported mechanical problems to ATC and asked to turn back. He made a left turn back to the field, but struck a tree and the Ryan landed on its belly on a golf course, sustaining heavy damage.
The engine failure occurred “during initial climb when the carburetor main metering jet became unseated, which led to an extremely rich fuel-to-air ratio,” according to the NTSB’s report. “Contributing to the accident was the lack of adequate carburetor maintenance instructions. Contributing to the severity of the pilot’s injuries was the improperly installed shoulder harness.” The NTSB’s narrative on its investigation said the airplane underwent a full restoration and engine overhaul in 1998, which included a new float and gasket for the carburetor. The plane had accumulated about 169 hours since then. The instruction manual for the carburetor “revealed that there were no pertinent instructions regarding the installation or continued maintenance of the jet assemblies. Further, no maintenance entries were located in the engine logbook regarding carburetor inspections since overhaul,” the report said. Investigators also found that an attach bolt for the pilot’s seat belt, which had pulled off, was not properly reinforced.