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On 26 February 2014 at about 1645 Central Standard Time (CST), a Beech 58 aircraft, registered VH-SBS, departed Darwin for Gove, Northern Territory, on a private ferry flight with a supervising pilot and pilot-in-command-under-supervision (ICUS) on board.

At about 1815, the crew detected fumes and smoke emanating from the left side circuit breaker panel. The pilot ICUS immediately switched off the electrical master switch. The supervising pilot seated in the right seat took control of the aircraft and commenced an immediate descent. The pilot ICUS retrieved the BCF extinguisher from underneath his seat and extinguished the fire.

The crew opened the vents and the fumes dissipated. To determine what electrics were available, the pilot selected the master switch on. The fire then reignited and he immediately selected the master switch off. The crew established that the most likely cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction, and opted to continue the remaining 40 NM to Gove aerodrome, where emergency services were available on the ground if required.

The crew observed that both suction indicators showed zero. They increased their lookout for other aircraft, cognisant that they were no longer able to maintain radio contact.

After joining downwind for runway 31, the crew briefly selected the master switch on and used the electric gear lever to lower the landing gear. They could smell fuel so the pilot conducted a closer circuit than normal and landed the aircraft. After parking the aircraft, the crew observed fuel dripping from beneath the aircraft fuselage.

An engineering inspection found that exhaust gas temperature (EGT) wiring had penetrated through the heater supply fuel line causing it to arc out and burn a hole in the fuel line.

This incident provides a valuable reminder for all pilots to know the location and operation of the aircraft fire extinguisher.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 29

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 155KB]
General details
Date: 26 February 2014 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1815 CST  
Location   (show map):Gove Aerodrome, west 111 km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Fire 
Release date: 08 April 2014 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Beech Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: 58 
Aircraft registration: VH-SBS 
Serial number: TH-366 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Darwin, NT
Destination:Gove, NT
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Last update 25 February 2015