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Sutton Harnesses

PUBLISHED: 12:34 23 June 2011 | UPDATED: 14:06 10 October 2012

A Tiger Moth, with pilot and a passenger, was on a local flight from a farm strip when the engine began to run roughly and lose power.

A Tiger Moth, with pilot and a passenger, was on a local flight from a farm strip when the engine began to run roughly and lose power.

The pilot elected to carry out a forced landing on a golf course adjacent to a wooded area, but as he positioned for the landing the engine appeared to recover. He completed a 360° turn, but the engine again lost power, leaving the pilot with no choice but to land in the trees.

During the landing both Sutton harnesses failed and both occupants were injured, the passenger seriously. The weather conditions, obtained from a nearby airport, showed a temperature of +12°C and a dewpoint of +6°C, conditions favourable for carburettor icing at cruise power.

As to the Sutton harnesses, many Tiger Moth aircraft have been fitted with replacement harnesses made from modern synthetic materials. This is especially the case in Australia, where Sutton harnesses have been prohibited for almost thirty years on these aircraft.

As a result of a previous accident to a Tiger Moth at Cardiff Airport in 1997, in which both occupants sustained serious injuries, the CAA accepted an AAIB recommendation, saying it would require the fitting of either life limited Sutton harnesses or new improved modern harnesses for all affected de Havilland aircraft, and this would be made mandatory by the Authority. It was intended that this would be completed by 1999. For other affected types, for which the manufacturers might no longer exist, the work was to be completed by 2000.

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