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.