Shortly after departing from Tallahassee, Fla., on an instrument flight rules flight, the Mooney M20R abruptly lost all electrical power while operating in IMC. The pilot reported that, given the abrupt nature of the electrical power loss, he assumed it was due to a short circuit, so he did not troubleshoot the electrical problem.
He then descended to visual meteorological conditions and used a portable electronic device to navigate back toward the departure airport.
During the return flight, he was concerned about a possible electrical fire and smoke in the cockpit and wanted to land as soon as possible, so he chose not to perform the emergency procedure to manually extend the electrically actuated landing gear.
Upon reaching the airport, he conducted a gear-up landing, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage. There were no injuries.
A post-accident examination of the electrical system found that the No. 2 battery was inoperable and that the total loss of electrical power was likely caused by an internal electrical short of the battery.
When the electrical system’s redundant (No. 1) battery was selected, the electrical system operated normally. It is likely that, if the pilot had attempted to troubleshoot or isolate the electrical problem, he could have restored electrical power, extended the landing gear normally, and executed a precautionary landing without damaging the airplane. Alternatively, he could have manually extended the landing gear.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to troubleshoot the in-flight electrical problem and restore power using the operable redundant battery and his decision not to manually extend the airplane’s landing gear, which resulted in a gear-up landing. Contributing to the accident was an internal electrical short of the No. 2 battery, which resulted in a total loss of electrical power.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA363
This August 2013 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.