The pilot reported that, during the landing roll at the airport in Savannah, Georgia, the wind pushed the Piper PA28 to the right and he overcompensated with left rudder.
The plane veered to the left, abruptly rotated about 180°, and the engine and airplane stopped on the runway at a taxiway intersection.
The tower controller asked if the pilot could restart the engine or if he needed a tow. The pilot attempted to restart the engine four or five times. While attempting a “hot start” he observed black smoke from the lower left engine cowling. He leaned forward and saw flames in the same location. He searched for a fire extinguisher, but couldn’t find one. He got out of the airplane without further incident.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.
The pilot added that, during the multiple restarts, he engaged the starter for five to eight seconds and estimated that the time between attempts was about five seconds. He attempted a hot start for the first couple of attempts, then after he observed the engine fire, he attempted a flooded start.
The pilot’s operating handbook contained section 3.7 titled, “Engine Fire During Start”, which stated: Engine fires during start are usually the result of overpriming.
It continued in section 4.13 titled, “Starting Engine” which stated: Starter manufacturers recommend that cranking periods be limited to 30 seconds with a two minute rest between cranking periods. Longer cranking periods will shorten the life of the starter.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s failure to conduct the engine starting procedures in accordance with the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, which resulted in an engine fire.
This March 2019 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.