|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : zzz.airport|
|Altitude||msl single value : 5500|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||PA-28 Cherokee/Archer II/Dakota/Pillan/Warrior|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||cruise : level|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : instrument|
pilot : private
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 15|
flight time total : 1560
flight time type : 1300
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
non adherence : published procedure
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|Consequence||faa : reviewed incident with flight crew|
Flight Crew Human Performance
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
A 2-PART VFR flight plan was filed with FSS the night before and opened shortly after takeoff with new york radio at about XA03. Shortly thereafter; mcguire approach was contacted for flight following to ZZZ with an en route cruise altitude of 3500 ft. At XB18 the alternator went off line. Numerous attempts to recycle it with the alternator switch failed to get it to stay on steadily. Finally instead of shedding electrical load I tried to increase the electrical load by putting on lots of electrical consumers and then turn the alternator switch on. That worked. The alternator came back on line at XB46 and stayed on until we landed at ZZZ at XD34. Somewhere near ZZZ; approach control was contacted and told that I was having 'alternator issues' and I asked them if they could hear me on my handheld radio which I might need for communication. They could not hear me on my handheld radio even though it was connected to an external antenna. I landed uneventfully; closed my flight plan with FSS; gassed up and departed at about XE00. Shortly after takeoff; the alternator failed completely and I elected not to return to ZZZ since the flight was not in jeopardy and it being sunday; I couldn't have gotten the alternator repaired then anyway. I next tried to contact raleigh FSS on the plane's radio to open the second leg of my VFR flight plan. To no avail; I simply couldn't raise raleigh radio although I kept trying for almost 5 mins. I continued my climb to 5500 ft and then decided to shut down all electrical consumers with the exception of the transponder so at least people would be able to 'see' me. Since I was leaving the transponder on as a 'safety issue;' I thought that instead of squawking 1200 I should do a better job of communicating and squawk something else. Checking my 'flight guide' manual I saw that it said '7600 squawk codes means...lost communication.' well that's exactly what I had -- lost communication; and since I couldn't talk to anyone; at the very least; approach control and all radar facilities would instantly know they couldn't contact me because my radios were off line. This made perfect sense to me. For the rest of the trip I navigated by my battery operated handheld GPS's doing my best to stay above all control areas and zones and staying out of restr areas and MOA's as possible. I hand flew the plane with the autoplt off. I don't believe I saw a single aircraft in the entire sky for the rest of the 3 1/2 hour trip to ZZZ2. About 20 mi from ZZZ2; I turned on my main commercial radio; got the ATIS for ZZZ2; called the tower and told them I had an 'alternator issue.' my battery voltage was now down to only 11.4 volts and that I may not be counted on to maintain communications. The tower gave me an immediate clearance to land and while I was on final approach the tower requested I call ZMA after I landed since they wanted to speak to me. After I copied miami's number; the tower then asked if I wanted them to 'scramble' any emergency trucks. I told them I only had an alternator battery issue and no emergency response was needed. The landing was uneventful and I parked the aircraft and called ZMA. I was then given a mild rebuke by the center watch officer because I was squawking 7600 and everyone was watching me and possibly expecting me to land. I was told that I should have called approach and told them why I had no radios. Of course; this seemed silly since if I had the power to call; I would have. I didn't call for fear I wouldn't have enough power remaining to contact the tower at my destination and get a clearance to land without going through a lot of trouble with light signals. I was also told that they 'nearly' scrambled aircraft to bring me down. I explained that doing so; in my humble opinion; didn't make any sense. After all; I truly believed I was doing the 'right thing' by telling everyone I was having communication problems by squawking 7600. I was not rebuked further and the operator seemed to completely understand.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: A PA28 PILOT EXPERIENCED ALTERNATOR FAILURE AND ATTEMPTED TO CONSERVE BATTERY POWER BY TURNING OFF THE RADIOS AND SQUAWKING 7600.
Narrative: A 2-PART VFR FLT PLAN WAS FILED WITH FSS THE NIGHT BEFORE AND OPENED SHORTLY AFTER TKOF WITH NEW YORK RADIO AT ABOUT XA03. SHORTLY THEREAFTER; MCGUIRE APCH WAS CONTACTED FOR FLT FOLLOWING TO ZZZ WITH AN ENRTE CRUISE ALT OF 3500 FT. AT XB18 THE ALTERNATOR WENT OFF LINE. NUMEROUS ATTEMPTS TO RECYCLE IT WITH THE ALTERNATOR SWITCH FAILED TO GET IT TO STAY ON STEADILY. FINALLY INSTEAD OF SHEDDING ELECTRICAL LOAD I TRIED TO INCREASE THE ELECTRICAL LOAD BY PUTTING ON LOTS OF ELECTRICAL CONSUMERS AND THEN TURN THE ALTERNATOR SWITCH ON. THAT WORKED. THE ALTERNATOR CAME BACK ON LINE AT XB46 AND STAYED ON UNTIL WE LANDED AT ZZZ AT XD34. SOMEWHERE NEAR ZZZ; APCH CTL WAS CONTACTED AND TOLD THAT I WAS HAVING 'ALTERNATOR ISSUES' AND I ASKED THEM IF THEY COULD HEAR ME ON MY HANDHELD RADIO WHICH I MIGHT NEED FOR COM. THEY COULD NOT HEAR ME ON MY HANDHELD RADIO EVEN THOUGH IT WAS CONNECTED TO AN EXTERNAL ANTENNA. I LANDED UNEVENTFULLY; CLOSED MY FLT PLAN WITH FSS; GASSED UP AND DEPARTED AT ABOUT XE00. SHORTLY AFTER TKOF; THE ALTERNATOR FAILED COMPLETELY AND I ELECTED NOT TO RETURN TO ZZZ SINCE THE FLT WAS NOT IN JEOPARDY AND IT BEING SUNDAY; I COULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN THE ALTERNATOR REPAIRED THEN ANYWAY. I NEXT TRIED TO CONTACT RALEIGH FSS ON THE PLANE'S RADIO TO OPEN THE SECOND LEG OF MY VFR FLT PLAN. TO NO AVAIL; I SIMPLY COULDN'T RAISE RALEIGH RADIO ALTHOUGH I KEPT TRYING FOR ALMOST 5 MINS. I CONTINUED MY CLB TO 5500 FT AND THEN DECIDED TO SHUT DOWN ALL ELECTRICAL CONSUMERS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE XPONDER SO AT LEAST PEOPLE WOULD BE ABLE TO 'SEE' ME. SINCE I WAS LEAVING THE XPONDER ON AS A 'SAFETY ISSUE;' I THOUGHT THAT INSTEAD OF SQUAWKING 1200 I SHOULD DO A BETTER JOB OF COMMUNICATING AND SQUAWK SOMETHING ELSE. CHKING MY 'FLT GUIDE' MANUAL I SAW THAT IT SAID '7600 SQUAWK CODES MEANS...LOST COM.' WELL THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I HAD -- LOST COM; AND SINCE I COULDN'T TALK TO ANYONE; AT THE VERY LEAST; APCH CTL AND ALL RADAR FACILITIES WOULD INSTANTLY KNOW THEY COULDN'T CONTACT ME BECAUSE MY RADIOS WERE OFF LINE. THIS MADE PERFECT SENSE TO ME. FOR THE REST OF THE TRIP I NAVIGATED BY MY BATTERY OPERATED HANDHELD GPS'S DOING MY BEST TO STAY ABOVE ALL CTL AREAS AND ZONES AND STAYING OUT OF RESTR AREAS AND MOA'S AS POSSIBLE. I HAND FLEW THE PLANE WITH THE AUTOPLT OFF. I DON'T BELIEVE I SAW A SINGLE ACFT IN THE ENTIRE SKY FOR THE REST OF THE 3 1/2 HR TRIP TO ZZZ2. ABOUT 20 MI FROM ZZZ2; I TURNED ON MY MAIN COMMERCIAL RADIO; GOT THE ATIS FOR ZZZ2; CALLED THE TWR AND TOLD THEM I HAD AN 'ALTERNATOR ISSUE.' MY BATTERY VOLTAGE WAS NOW DOWN TO ONLY 11.4 VOLTS AND THAT I MAY NOT BE COUNTED ON TO MAINTAIN COMS. THE TWR GAVE ME AN IMMEDIATE CLRNC TO LAND AND WHILE I WAS ON FINAL APCH THE TWR REQUESTED I CALL ZMA AFTER I LANDED SINCE THEY WANTED TO SPEAK TO ME. AFTER I COPIED MIAMI'S NUMBER; THE TWR THEN ASKED IF I WANTED THEM TO 'SCRAMBLE' ANY EMER TRUCKS. I TOLD THEM I ONLY HAD AN ALTERNATOR BATTERY ISSUE AND NO EMER RESPONSE WAS NEEDED. THE LNDG WAS UNEVENTFUL AND I PARKED THE ACFT AND CALLED ZMA. I WAS THEN GIVEN A MILD REBUKE BY THE CTR WATCH OFFICER BECAUSE I WAS SQUAWKING 7600 AND EVERYONE WAS WATCHING ME AND POSSIBLY EXPECTING ME TO LAND. I WAS TOLD THAT I SHOULD HAVE CALLED APCH AND TOLD THEM WHY I HAD NO RADIOS. OF COURSE; THIS SEEMED SILLY SINCE IF I HAD THE PWR TO CALL; I WOULD HAVE. I DIDN'T CALL FOR FEAR I WOULDN'T HAVE ENOUGH PWR REMAINING TO CONTACT THE TWR AT MY DEST AND GET A CLRNC TO LAND WITHOUT GOING THROUGH A LOT OF TROUBLE WITH LIGHT SIGNALS. I WAS ALSO TOLD THAT THEY 'NEARLY' SCRAMBLED ACFT TO BRING ME DOWN. I EXPLAINED THAT DOING SO; IN MY HUMBLE OPINION; DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. AFTER ALL; I TRULY BELIEVED I WAS DOING THE 'RIGHT THING' BY TELLING EVERYONE I WAS HAVING COM PROBS BY SQUAWKING 7600. I WAS NOT REBUKED FURTHER AND THE OPERATOR SEEMED TO COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of May 2009 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.