|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||airport : wst|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 0
|Operator||general aviation : instructional|
|Make Model Name||PA-32 Cherokee Six/Lance/Saratoga|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||ground other : taxi|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : instrument
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 35|
flight time total : 1100
flight time type : 30
|Function||observation : passenger|
|Qualification||other other : other|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : detected after the fact|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
When taxiing for takeoff I lost sight of visual references for taxiway and struck a taxiway light with the propeller. I returned to ramp for damage check. Purely coincidentally, after the front passenger and I exited the aircraft I observed fuel flowing freely from the aircraft's belly drain. I evacuated remaining passenger and determined that the belly drain actuator, which in the cherokee 6 is located on the front of the passenger seat behind the copilot position, was stuck open. Apparently the middle seat passenger must have while boarding, caught a shoe on the drain actuator cover, as the plastic cover was half ripped off (1 screw attached, 1 screw out) and the cover had caught on and pulled open the handle. If I had not hit a light and returned to check the propeller, I would have flown my trip with a wide-open fuel drain! Contributing factors to the belly drain being kicked open: it is poor design to have the drain's actuator in a passenger area. No one would suspect this freakish occurrence, leastways a passenger, who was unaware her seat housed an aircraft fuel drain. It was dark and she wouldn't have seen an open cover. This drain should be actuated from outside the plane, like the 4 tank drains are. Pilot acted properly in checking for damage after striking taxiway light. Several pilots have mentioned that they might have 'just kept going as long as there wasn't any vibration.' propeller damage in this case required propeller overhaul. And if I hadn't checked for damage, I might have run a tank dry on an overwater flight, due to unrelated open drain. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following information: reporter states she did not follow up because it is such a freakish accident she did not think it would happen often. But she does believe it is a poor design and should be changed so there is no chance of such a future occurrence. Her company replaced the cover and made sure it was absolutely flat with no areas that could catch on a shoe and be pulled up. Part of reporter concern is that she has no idea how fast the fuel might drain out. She was flying overwater to an island and might have had problems prior to destination.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: ACFT FUEL EQUIP DESIGN PROB DISCOVERED 'ACCIDENTLY' IN A NIGHT OP.
Narrative: WHEN TAXIING FOR TKOF I LOST SIGHT OF VISUAL REFS FOR TXWY AND STRUCK A TXWY LIGHT WITH THE PROP. I RETURNED TO RAMP FOR DAMAGE CHK. PURELY COINCIDENTALLY, AFTER THE FRONT PAX AND I EXITED THE ACFT I OBSERVED FUEL FLOWING FREELY FROM THE ACFT'S BELLY DRAIN. I EVACUATED REMAINING PAX AND DETERMINED THAT THE BELLY DRAIN ACTUATOR, WHICH IN THE CHEROKEE 6 IS LOCATED ON THE FRONT OF THE PAX SEAT BEHIND THE COPLT POS, WAS STUCK OPEN. APPARENTLY THE MIDDLE SEAT PAX MUST HAVE WHILE BOARDING, CAUGHT A SHOE ON THE DRAIN ACTUATOR COVER, AS THE PLASTIC COVER WAS HALF RIPPED OFF (1 SCREW ATTACHED, 1 SCREW OUT) AND THE COVER HAD CAUGHT ON AND PULLED OPEN THE HANDLE. IF I HAD NOT HIT A LIGHT AND RETURNED TO CHK THE PROP, I WOULD HAVE FLOWN MY TRIP WITH A WIDE-OPEN FUEL DRAIN! CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO THE BELLY DRAIN BEING KICKED OPEN: IT IS POOR DESIGN TO HAVE THE DRAIN'S ACTUATOR IN A PAX AREA. NO ONE WOULD SUSPECT THIS FREAKISH OCCURRENCE, LEASTWAYS A PAX, WHO WAS UNAWARE HER SEAT HOUSED AN ACFT FUEL DRAIN. IT WAS DARK AND SHE WOULDN'T HAVE SEEN AN OPEN COVER. THIS DRAIN SHOULD BE ACTUATED FROM OUTSIDE THE PLANE, LIKE THE 4 TANK DRAINS ARE. PLT ACTED PROPERLY IN CHKING FOR DAMAGE AFTER STRIKING TXWY LIGHT. SEVERAL PLTS HAVE MENTIONED THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE 'JUST KEPT GOING AS LONG AS THERE WASN'T ANY VIBRATION.' PROP DAMAGE IN THIS CASE REQUIRED PROP OVERHAUL. AND IF I HADN'T CHKED FOR DAMAGE, I MIGHT HAVE RUN A TANK DRY ON AN OVERWATER FLT, DUE TO UNRELATED OPEN DRAIN. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING INFO: RPTR STATES SHE DID NOT FOLLOW UP BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A FREAKISH ACCIDENT SHE DID NOT THINK IT WOULD HAPPEN OFTEN. BUT SHE DOES BELIEVE IT IS A POOR DESIGN AND SHOULD BE CHANGED SO THERE IS NO CHANCE OF SUCH A FUTURE OCCURRENCE. HER COMPANY REPLACED THE COVER AND MADE SURE IT WAS ABSOLUTELY FLAT WITH NO AREAS THAT COULD CATCH ON A SHOE AND BE PULLED UP. PART OF RPTR CONCERN IS THAT SHE HAS NO IDEA HOW FAST THE FUEL MIGHT DRAIN OUT. SHE WAS FLYING OVERWATER TO AN ISLAND AND MIGHT HAVE HAD PROBS PRIOR TO DEST.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.