Aviation safety investigations & reports

In-flight fire - Convair 580, VH-PDW, 74 Km S of Tamworth Airport NSW, 7 January 2009

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 7 January 2010, the crew of a Convair 580 aircraft, registered VH-PDW, were conducting a training flight from Bankstown to Tamworth, New South Wales (NSW). While on descent to Tamworth, the crew noticed smoke emanating from below the instrument panel. Shortly after, the smoke intensified and flames appeared. The flight crew declared an emergency and suppressed the flames using a portable fire extinguisher. The crew continued the descent and the aircraft landed without further incident.

A subsequent engineering inspection revealed that a small amount of insulation material had become detached and fallen onto the right red instrument panel light rheostat and surrounding wires. The rheostat had developed a 'hot spot' and consequently, the insulation absorbed the heat and transferred it to the wires, which produced smoke and flames.

The operator has advised the ATSB that, as a result of this occurrence, it has implemented a number of safety actions, including:

  • all of the organisation's aircraft have been examined to ensure that there is sufficient clearance between the rheostats, insulation material and wires
  • any insulation material located in close proximity to a rheostat has been removed
  • a notice to crew was issued to emphasise the importance of recording defects in the maintenance log.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.5MB]
General details
Date: 07 January 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1828 EsuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 74 Km S of Tamworth Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Fire  
Release date: 20 April 2010   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Convair  
Aircraft model 580  
Aircraft registration VH-PDW  
Serial number 86  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Last update 14 November 2018