|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : osi|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 9500|
msl bound upper : 10000
|Controlling Facilities||artcc : zoa|
|Operator||common carrier : air taxi|
|Make Model Name||Small Transport, Low Wing, 2 Recip Eng|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 300|
flight time total : 2400
flight time type : 50
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : radar|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : unable|
|Consequence||faa : reviewed incident with flight crew|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
This event fits neither the usual ASRS criteria nor the NTSB reporting requirements, but I feel that someone ought to be informed about it, and you folks seemed to be the best bet. I was on a short hop from my base at gnoss field, novato, ca, to monterey peninsula airport to position the aircraft for a charter pickup. Shortly after I topped out my climb at 9500, my right engine began to surge, so I turned on the boost pumps. The right engine immediately stabilized, and I thought no more about it. Shortly after crossing woodside VOR, I began to smell fuel fumes. I ran the contaminated air checklist, which seemed to alleviate the smell somewhat, notified oakland center of my situation, and began trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. The center handed me off to monterey approach, and I informed the new controller that the smell was getting worse despite my having run the contaminated air procedure. The fuel vapor in the cabin was so strong that I became certain that if further corrective action was not taken, I would probably experience an explosion and catastrophic destruction of the aircraft, missing out on the opportunity to find out what on earth had happened, not to mention living out the rest of my life. I depressurized the airplane, opened the vent windows, and took advantage of the offer of the approach and tower controllers to get everyone out of my way and call out the fire trucks. I landed the aircraft west/O further incident, but, had I known then what I know now, I sure wouldn't have used the electric flap and gear system. Since the smell was the strongest coming out of the overhead air gaspers, I was convinced that the fuel vapor was entering the pressurized air system somewhere in the engine nacelles, and that I had alleviated the problem by dumping the ram air and depressurizing, ventilating the cabin. I could not have been more wrong. Later inspection of the aircraft revealed that an electrical wire had been run from a circuit breaker and left forgotten, with its bare end under the deck beneath the pilot's seat and lying on one of the fuel xfeed lines (which some lunatic in the FAA certification branch allowed to run inside the pressure vessel). Over time, the wire had grounded to the fuel line, and the resulting arc had weakened the fuel line which ultimately burst (remember when my right engine began surging?), ultimately transferring most of the 300 # of fuel in my tip tank to the 'bilge' under the cabin. My theory of why the whole thing did not become a fireball, especially when I used the electric (dc motors with brushes that arc) flap and gear motors is that, by that time, they were both immersed in fuel, and no air could get to them to support combustion. I hope you find this information of some use. Keep up the good work, and let me say in closing that it sure is nice to be here. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following: FAA did not investigate the incident, probably because an emergency was not declared. This is not a design problem. The aircraft had extensive avionics modification done at a much earlier date, installing fancy communication equipment, and he feels the shop mechanic forgot this one wire and it eventually grounded to the fuel line. Landing was made at mry west/O any problem.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: EXPEDITED APCH AND LNDG ACCOUNT FUEL FUMES IN THE COCKPIT AREA.
Narrative: THIS EVENT FITS NEITHER THE USUAL ASRS CRITERIA NOR THE NTSB RPTING REQUIREMENTS, BUT I FEEL THAT SOMEONE OUGHT TO BE INFORMED ABOUT IT, AND YOU FOLKS SEEMED TO BE THE BEST BET. I WAS ON A SHORT HOP FROM MY BASE AT GNOSS FIELD, NOVATO, CA, TO MONTEREY PENINSULA ARPT TO POS THE ACFT FOR A CHARTER PICKUP. SHORTLY AFTER I TOPPED OUT MY CLB AT 9500, MY RIGHT ENG BEGAN TO SURGE, SO I TURNED ON THE BOOST PUMPS. THE RIGHT ENG IMMEDIATELY STABILIZED, AND I THOUGHT NO MORE ABOUT IT. SHORTLY AFTER XING WOODSIDE VOR, I BEGAN TO SMELL FUEL FUMES. I RAN THE CONTAMINATED AIR CHKLIST, WHICH SEEMED TO ALLEVIATE THE SMELL SOMEWHAT, NOTIFIED OAKLAND CENTER OF MY SITUATION, AND BEGAN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THE SMELL WAS COMING FROM. THE CENTER HANDED ME OFF TO MONTEREY APCH, AND I INFORMED THE NEW CTLR THAT THE SMELL WAS GETTING WORSE DESPITE MY HAVING RUN THE CONTAMINATED AIR PROC. THE FUEL VAPOR IN THE CABIN WAS SO STRONG THAT I BECAME CERTAIN THAT IF FURTHER CORRECTIVE ACTION WAS NOT TAKEN, I WOULD PROBABLY EXPERIENCE AN EXPLOSION AND CATASTROPHIC DESTRUCTION OF THE ACFT, MISSING OUT ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO FIND OUT WHAT ON EARTH HAD HAPPENED, NOT TO MENTION LIVING OUT THE REST OF MY LIFE. I DEPRESSURIZED THE AIRPLANE, OPENED THE VENT WINDOWS, AND TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE OFFER OF THE APCH AND TWR CTLRS TO GET EVERYONE OUT OF MY WAY AND CALL OUT THE FIRE TRUCKS. I LANDED THE ACFT W/O FURTHER INCIDENT, BUT, HAD I KNOWN THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW, I SURE WOULDN'T HAVE USED THE ELECTRIC FLAP AND GEAR SYS. SINCE THE SMELL WAS THE STRONGEST COMING OUT OF THE OVERHEAD AIR GASPERS, I WAS CONVINCED THAT THE FUEL VAPOR WAS ENTERING THE PRESSURIZED AIR SYS SOMEWHERE IN THE ENG NACELLES, AND THAT I HAD ALLEVIATED THE PROB BY DUMPING THE RAM AIR AND DEPRESSURIZING, VENTILATING THE CABIN. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. LATER INSPECTION OF THE ACFT REVEALED THAT AN ELECTRICAL WIRE HAD BEEN RUN FROM A CIRCUIT BREAKER AND LEFT FORGOTTEN, WITH ITS BARE END UNDER THE DECK BENEATH THE PLT'S SEAT AND LYING ON ONE OF THE FUEL XFEED LINES (WHICH SOME LUNATIC IN THE FAA CERTIFICATION BRANCH ALLOWED TO RUN INSIDE THE PRESSURE VESSEL). OVER TIME, THE WIRE HAD GNDED TO THE FUEL LINE, AND THE RESULTING ARC HAD WEAKENED THE FUEL LINE WHICH ULTIMATELY BURST (REMEMBER WHEN MY RIGHT ENG BEGAN SURGING?), ULTIMATELY TRANSFERRING MOST OF THE 300 # OF FUEL IN MY TIP TANK TO THE 'BILGE' UNDER THE CABIN. MY THEORY OF WHY THE WHOLE THING DID NOT BECOME A FIREBALL, ESPECIALLY WHEN I USED THE ELECTRIC (DC MOTORS WITH BRUSHES THAT ARC) FLAP AND GEAR MOTORS IS THAT, BY THAT TIME, THEY WERE BOTH IMMERSED IN FUEL, AND NO AIR COULD GET TO THEM TO SUPPORT COMBUSTION. I HOPE YOU FIND THIS INFO OF SOME USE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, AND LET ME SAY IN CLOSING THAT IT SURE IS NICE TO BE HERE. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING: FAA DID NOT INVESTIGATE THE INCIDENT, PROBABLY BECAUSE AN EMER WAS NOT DECLARED. THIS IS NOT A DESIGN PROB. THE ACFT HAD EXTENSIVE AVIONICS MODIFICATION DONE AT A MUCH EARLIER DATE, INSTALLING FANCY COM EQUIP, AND HE FEELS THE SHOP MECH FORGOT THIS ONE WIRE AND IT EVENTUALLY GNDED TO THE FUEL LINE. LNDG WAS MADE AT MRY W/O ANY PROB.
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.