|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : hto|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 2000|
msl bound upper : 7000
|Controlling Facilities||artcc : zny|
|Operator||common carrier : air taxi|
|Make Model Name||Small Transport, Low Wing, 2 Recip Eng|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Route In Use||enroute airway : v139|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 12|
flight time total : 4758
flight time type : 77
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : radar|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : overcame equipment problem|
flight crew : declared emergency
|Consequence||faa : reviewed incident with flight crew|
While on an IFR flight plan on V139 nebnd, I was alerted to a possible electrical fire on board the small transport by the smell of burning plastic or wire. I tried to alert ny center repeatedly and was not acknowledged, although they (ny center) was responding to other heavier traffic in the area. It was as if they couldn't be bothered by a light aircraft. As I continued my attempt in contacting center, trace smoke started to enter the cockpit from below the instrument panel. I told center that I was going to shut off all electrical and was headed down to 2000'. I knew it was VFR at 2000' and would have half a fighting chance of surviving if the aircraft caught fire. Still no response from ny center. Upon reaching 2000', I reduced the electrical load and turned on the battery switch and radioed on 121.5 MHZ. I then received all of the help that I needed and made an uneventful landing at isp, thanks to the help of flight services who responded on the emergency frequency and served as the go between. What I have a great deal of trouble comprehending is why didn't ny acknowledge my call for help sooner? All that I wanted to do was to shut down my electrical system in an attempt to isolate the smoke smell. Because of center's lackadaisical attitude towards me and the amount of time that I wasted trying to raise them, the fire smell advanced to the visible smoke stage and I was forced to take drastic action. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following: at home base following this incident, the aircraft was thoroughly inspected and it was found to have faulty relay in the landing gear circuit. For an unknown reason, the circuit breaker did not trip and the resultant short caused a large drain on the electrical systems. This caused the radios to function only partially and reporter is now convinced that the center never did hear his calls about his difficulty. It wasn't until he reduced the load on the electrical system, at 2000', that he was able to raise FSS on 121.5. Reporter is a professional pilot for a commuter company and flies this route regularly.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: ATX SMT HAD SMOKE VISIBLE IN COCKPIT, AND MADE EMERGENCY DESCENT TO VFR CONDITIONS. ELECTRICAL LOAD REDUCED AND PROBLEM OVERCOME.
Narrative: WHILE ON AN IFR FLT PLAN ON V139 NEBND, I WAS ALERTED TO A POSSIBLE ELECTRICAL FIRE ON BOARD THE SMT BY THE SMELL OF BURNING PLASTIC OR WIRE. I TRIED TO ALERT NY CENTER REPEATEDLY AND WAS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED, ALTHOUGH THEY (NY CENTER) WAS RESPONDING TO OTHER HEAVIER TFC IN THE AREA. IT WAS AS IF THEY COULDN'T BE BOTHERED BY A LIGHT ACFT. AS I CONTINUED MY ATTEMPT IN CONTACTING CENTER, TRACE SMOKE STARTED TO ENTER THE COCKPIT FROM BELOW THE INSTRUMENT PANEL. I TOLD CENTER THAT I WAS GOING TO SHUT OFF ALL ELECTRICAL AND WAS HEADED DOWN TO 2000'. I KNEW IT WAS VFR AT 2000' AND WOULD HAVE HALF A FIGHTING CHANCE OF SURVIVING IF THE ACFT CAUGHT FIRE. STILL NO RESPONSE FROM NY CENTER. UPON REACHING 2000', I REDUCED THE ELECTRICAL LOAD AND TURNED ON THE BATTERY SWITCH AND RADIOED ON 121.5 MHZ. I THEN RECEIVED ALL OF THE HELP THAT I NEEDED AND MADE AN UNEVENTFUL LNDG AT ISP, THANKS TO THE HELP OF FLT SVCS WHO RESPONDED ON THE EMER FREQ AND SERVED AS THE GO BTWN. WHAT I HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF TROUBLE COMPREHENDING IS WHY DIDN'T NY ACKNOWLEDGE MY CALL FOR HELP SOONER? ALL THAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TO SHUT DOWN MY ELECTRICAL SYS IN AN ATTEMPT TO ISOLATE THE SMOKE SMELL. BECAUSE OF CENTER'S LACKADAISICAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS ME AND THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT I WASTED TRYING TO RAISE THEM, THE FIRE SMELL ADVANCED TO THE VISIBLE SMOKE STAGE AND I WAS FORCED TO TAKE DRASTIC ACTION. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING: AT HOME BASE FOLLOWING THIS INCIDENT, THE ACFT WAS THOROUGHLY INSPECTED AND IT WAS FOUND TO HAVE FAULTY RELAY IN THE LNDG GEAR CIRCUIT. FOR AN UNKNOWN REASON, THE CB DID NOT TRIP AND THE RESULTANT SHORT CAUSED A LARGE DRAIN ON THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS. THIS CAUSED THE RADIOS TO FUNCTION ONLY PARTIALLY AND RPTR IS NOW CONVINCED THAT THE CENTER NEVER DID HEAR HIS CALLS ABOUT HIS DIFFICULTY. IT WASN'T UNTIL HE REDUCED THE LOAD ON THE ELECTRICAL SYS, AT 2000', THAT HE WAS ABLE TO RAISE FSS ON 121.5. RPTR IS A PROFESSIONAL PLT FOR A COMMUTER COMPANY AND FLIES THIS ROUTE REGULARLY.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 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.