Loose fuel control unit leads to in-flight fire

This February 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Piper Malibu Mirage. Injuries: None. Location: Nashville. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 2,632-hour commercial pilot said that while in cruise flight the alternator light illuminated and he smelled smoke. He declared an emergency and diverted to the nearest airport for an emergency landing. The engine lost all power during the descent. The airplane landed safely and the pilot and passengers evacuated the airplane, noting the light smoke that emanated from the cowling for several minutes after landing.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed fire damage in the engine compartment between the firewall and rear engine baffle. The fuel control unit feed and return lines were found loose at the rear engine baffle fittings immediately above the starter and starter adapter. Inspection of maintenance invoices revealed that the starter adapter was replaced approximately nine hours before the accident.

Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to the mechanic’s failure to properly secure the fuel control unit fuel lines after replacement of the starter adapter.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10IA147



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