Harrison Ford Plane Crash Was Likely Caused by Carburetor, NTSB Says

An improperly installed shoulder harness also contributed to actor’s injuries, according to organization

Last Updated: August 6, 2015 @ 3:16 PM

The Los Angeles plane crash involving an aircraft piloted by “Star Wars” actor Harrison Ford was likely caused by a faulty carburetor, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The organization said that the March 5 crash was due to a “total loss of engine power.”

A release issued by the NTSB said that the probable cause of the crash was a “total loss of engine power during initial climb when the carburetor main metering jet became unseated, which led to an extremely rich fuel-to-air ratio. Contributing to the accident was the lack of adequate carburetor
maintenance instructions.”

The board added, “A postaccident examination of the airplane’s engine revealed that the carburetor’s main metering jet was unscrewed from its seat and rotated 90 degrees. The unseated jet would have allowed an increased fuel flow through the main metering orifice, producing an extremely rich fuel-to-air ratio, which would have resulted in the loss of engine power. It is likely that, over time, the jet gradually loosened from its seat, which allowed it to eventually rotate 90 degrees. No further mechanical failures or malfunctions were revealed that would have precluded normal operation.”

According to the NTSB, the carburetor was rebuilt when the plane was restored 17 years ago, and there was no record of the carburetor jets being inspected since the rebuild, though there was no requirement to do so.

Ford, who had to make a forced landing on a golf course near Santa Monica Airport shortly after takeoff, was hospitalized following the crash but has since recovered. The NTSB said that his injuries were likely made worse by an “improperly installed shoulder harness,” which lacked reinforcement at or around the attachment bolt hole in the seatback.