The flight instructor, student pilot, and pilot-rated passenger flew on a short cross-country instructional flight to practice stop-and-go landings.
On the first landing, after touchdown, the student pilot reduced the engine power to idle, and the engine lost total power. The Piper PA-28 stopped on the runway at the airport in Palatka, Florida, and the student pilot noted that the electric fuel pump was still on from landing and that the mixture control was full forward.
He tried to start the engine while he “pumped” the throttle, but it did not start. He thought the engine was flooded, so he turned off the electric fuel pump and pulled the mixture control to the “off” position, but again the engine would not restart.
He then pushed the mixture control back to full forward and tried to start the engine while pumping the throttle a couple more times, but the engine did not start.
He then saw smoke coming out of the engine cowling and notified the flight instructor and passenger. The flight instructor performed the “engine fire on start checklist,” told everyone to get out of the plane, and went to the cargo door to get the fire extinguisher while the passenger opened the engine cowling.
When the flight instructor looked at the fire extinguisher, she noticed it was empty.
The flight instructor and passenger noted that the fire was at the bottom of the engine around the carburetor and gaining in intensity. The passenger located a fire extinguisher at the airport’s FBO, and when he returned, the engine compartment was fully engulfed by fire.
Subsequently, the fire was extinguished by the portable extinguishers and the local fire department.
Examination of the airplane revealed that the engine compartment, engine mounts, and firewall were substantially damaged by fire.
Probable cause: The student pilot’s overpriming of the engine and the flight instructor’s delayed remedial action, which resulted in an engine fire.
NTSB Identification: ERA17CA295
This August 2017 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.