|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 5000|
msl bound upper : 6000
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : lex.tracon|
tower : bos.tower
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Cardinal 177/177RG|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Navigation In Use||other|
|Flight Phase||descent : intermediate altitude|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
oversight : pic
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : instrument
pilot : multi engine
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 45|
flight time total : 2936
flight time type : 2000
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||aircraft : equipment problem dissipated|
|Consequence||faa : reviewed incident with flight crew|
Flight Crew Human Performance
This trip began as a typical IFR flight. It ended with my deviating from IFR procedure. I obtained my clearance and launched from 43A (montgomery county, nc), climbed through a cloud deck and was on top by 3500 ft. My destination was bowman field in louisville, ky. The route joined V310 at burch intersection and proceeded normally at 8000 ft. ZID handed me off to lexington approach and after several mins the controller instructed me to descend to 4000 ft. I acknowledged and began the descent. The GPS waypoint was the louisville VOR (iiu), 35-40 mi away. I had already received the WX at bowman via their ATIS. The autoplt was tracking the GPS during the descent. During the descent, somewhere between 6000 ft and 5000 ft, I experienced a total electrical failure. Both radios, the HSI, transponder and autoplt were all instantly inoperative. I leveled off at 4000 ft, in IMC and attempted to solve the problem. Several mins went by and I did everything I could think of. I had no indication of a pending failure, ie, the alternator low voltage light had not been on. Additionally there were no popped circuit breakers. I am familiar with IFR procedures for lost communication, however that didn't apply since all my electrical devices had failed to include the transponder. And I couldn't remain at my last assigned altitude, proceed to the airport and shoot the approach. I had no way to find the airport or execute an approach. My options were limited, so I began a descent, aware of the potential hazards. Since I had received the WX at bowman, I felt certain that I would break out of the clouds at 1500 ft to 1800 ft MSL. When I had ground contact, I began to look for a reference that would point me to an airport, preferably bowman, or an interstate in case things got worse. As suddenly as I had lost my electrical system, it was restored (after much prayer). The lexington controller was calling, somewhat upset, saying that he had been trying to contact me for 10 mins. I explained my situation, he assigned me a transponder code, I climbed to 3000 ft and was handed to louisville approach. The GPS approach to runway 24 at bowman was normal. After landing I contacted both louisville and lexington approach control facilities at their request. Lexington seemed aggravated with the situation. I explained that under the circumstances, my options were very limited. I could not communicate with them, nor could I find the airport or do the approach. They seemed to understand after a lengthy discussion. At bowman, we traced the problem to a battery cable and took corrective action. Later that same day we flew on to memphis without incident and only had a few thunderstorms to deal with. I understand the procedures, but under the circumstances, I had to make a decision as PIC. I think it was the right one, or maybe the only one.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: A C177 PLT EXPERIENCES A TOTAL ELECTRICAL FAILURE WHILE IMC, LOSING ALL COM AND NAV EQUIP UNTIL THE ACFT RESTORED PWR.
Narrative: THIS TRIP BEGAN AS A TYPICAL IFR FLT. IT ENDED WITH MY DEVIATING FROM IFR PROC. I OBTAINED MY CLRNC AND LAUNCHED FROM 43A (MONTGOMERY COUNTY, NC), CLBED THROUGH A CLOUD DECK AND WAS ON TOP BY 3500 FT. MY DEST WAS BOWMAN FIELD IN LOUISVILLE, KY. THE RTE JOINED V310 AT BURCH INTXN AND PROCEEDED NORMALLY AT 8000 FT. ZID HANDED ME OFF TO LEXINGTON APCH AND AFTER SEVERAL MINS THE CTLR INSTRUCTED ME TO DSND TO 4000 FT. I ACKNOWLEDGED AND BEGAN THE DSCNT. THE GPS WAYPOINT WAS THE LOUISVILLE VOR (IIU), 35-40 MI AWAY. I HAD ALREADY RECEIVED THE WX AT BOWMAN VIA THEIR ATIS. THE AUTOPLT WAS TRACKING THE GPS DURING THE DSCNT. DURING THE DSCNT, SOMEWHERE BTWN 6000 FT AND 5000 FT, I EXPERIENCED A TOTAL ELECTRICAL FAILURE. BOTH RADIOS, THE HSI, XPONDER AND AUTOPLT WERE ALL INSTANTLY INOP. I LEVELED OFF AT 4000 FT, IN IMC AND ATTEMPTED TO SOLVE THE PROB. SEVERAL MINS WENT BY AND I DID EVERYTHING I COULD THINK OF. I HAD NO INDICATION OF A PENDING FAILURE, IE, THE ALTERNATOR LOW VOLTAGE LIGHT HAD NOT BEEN ON. ADDITIONALLY THERE WERE NO POPPED CIRCUIT BREAKERS. I AM FAMILIAR WITH IFR PROCS FOR LOST COM, HOWEVER THAT DIDN'T APPLY SINCE ALL MY ELECTRICAL DEVICES HAD FAILED TO INCLUDE THE XPONDER. AND I COULDN'T REMAIN AT MY LAST ASSIGNED ALT, PROCEED TO THE ARPT AND SHOOT THE APCH. I HAD NO WAY TO FIND THE ARPT OR EXECUTE AN APCH. MY OPTIONS WERE LIMITED, SO I BEGAN A DSCNT, AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL HAZARDS. SINCE I HAD RECEIVED THE WX AT BOWMAN, I FELT CERTAIN THAT I WOULD BREAK OUT OF THE CLOUDS AT 1500 FT TO 1800 FT MSL. WHEN I HAD GND CONTACT, I BEGAN TO LOOK FOR A REF THAT WOULD POINT ME TO AN ARPT, PREFERABLY BOWMAN, OR AN INTERSTATE IN CASE THINGS GOT WORSE. AS SUDDENLY AS I HAD LOST MY ELECTRICAL SYS, IT WAS RESTORED (AFTER MUCH PRAYER). THE LEXINGTON CTLR WAS CALLING, SOMEWHAT UPSET, SAYING THAT HE HAD BEEN TRYING TO CONTACT ME FOR 10 MINS. I EXPLAINED MY SIT, HE ASSIGNED ME A XPONDER CODE, I CLBED TO 3000 FT AND WAS HANDED TO LOUISVILLE APCH. THE GPS APCH TO RWY 24 AT BOWMAN WAS NORMAL. AFTER LNDG I CONTACTED BOTH LOUISVILLE AND LEXINGTON APCH CTL FACILITIES AT THEIR REQUEST. LEXINGTON SEEMED AGGRAVATED WITH THE SIT. I EXPLAINED THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, MY OPTIONS WERE VERY LIMITED. I COULD NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THEM, NOR COULD I FIND THE ARPT OR DO THE APCH. THEY SEEMED TO UNDERSTAND AFTER A LENGTHY DISCUSSION. AT BOWMAN, WE TRACED THE PROB TO A BATTERY CABLE AND TOOK CORRECTIVE ACTION. LATER THAT SAME DAY WE FLEW ON TO MEMPHIS WITHOUT INCIDENT AND ONLY HAD A FEW TSTMS TO DEAL WITH. I UNDERSTAND THE PROCS, BUT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I HAD TO MAKE A DECISION AS PIC. I THINK IT WAS THE RIGHT ONE, OR MAYBE THE ONLY ONE.
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.