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25th of June 2001

An Embraer EMB-110P1 Bandeirante was on a domestic charter flight between Sydney and Griffith (Australia) on this day in aviation history in 2009. On board a single pilot and eight passengers for the 470 kilometers (294 miles) flight under Instrument Flight Rules. After take-off at 08.55 lt (local time), the aircraft climbed to its cruise altitude of 10.000 feet.

The aircraft in its final position (source © unknown)

Approximate 50 minutes after take-off the master caution light illuminated together with a GENERATOR 2 warning, indicating the generator of the righthand engine had failed. The pilot completed the necessary procedure and the generator reconnected to the aircraft's electrical network. Not long afterwards the master warning light illuminated while some circuit breakers tripped. Several warning lights illuminated and the fire indication for the right engine illuminated. After silencing the accompanying aural alarms the pilot completed the engine fire emergency checklists actions. The fire handle was pulled and the fire extinguisher was discharged into the engine, with the amber discharge light confirming the fire extinguisher was discharged into the engine. A short while later the fire alarm sounded again.

ATC was contacted and PAN PAN call was made due to the fire in the engine. The nearest runways were unavailable due to fog, so the decision was made to divert to Young, 35 miles from the aircraft's current position. Two minutes later the pilot reported that the fire in the engine had been extinguished. Wh en approaching Young it became apparent that visibility was below the requirements The smoke-filled cabin for the Bandeirante to land. (source © unknown) The approach was aborted and ATC was informed they were now diverting to Cootamundra Aerorodrome, 27 nm (nautical miles) from Young. When the aircraft was 9 nm Cootamundra the pilot made a MAYDAY call to ATC reporting thick smoke entering the cabin and that there was a serious fire on board the aircraft, this was the last transmission from the aircraft. 25 minutes after the onset of the problems the aircraft was approaching runway 16 at Cootamundra and at short finals when the gear was selected down the three greens, indicating the gear was down and locked, did illuminate. it was too late in the approach to perform the alternate gear down procedure. Because of the fire, there was no time for a go-around, A quick announcement was made to the passengers, to prepare them for a (possible) belly landing. Full flaps was selected and the condition lever was placed in the feather position while the condition lever was placed to fuel cur-off.

Fire damage to the right-hand engine (source © unknown)

With only the right main landing gear extended the aircraft touched down ~260 meters (850 feet) from the threshold of the runway, close to the right edge of the runway. The aircraft then settled on the nose section and the left engine cowling. After skidding down the runway for ~450 meters (~1480 feet) before veering off to the left. When skidding off the runway onto the soft ground the aircraft came to a stop after sharply turning left, facing the direction it came from.

The aircraft was evacuated without injury, while local maintenance personnel extinguished the engine fire. Damage to the aircraft was extensive.

The Australian Transport Safety Board investigated the accident, and in November 2002 they published their final report, available by clicking here.

In their report, they identified a long list of contributing factors, a summary;

Significant factors:

1. Vibration from a worn shaft of the right starter generator resulted in a fractured fuel return line.

2. The shaft of the right engine starter generator failed in flight.

3. Sparks or frictional heat generated by the failed starter generator ignited the combustible fuel/air mixture in the right engine accessory compartment.

4. Items on the engine fire emergency checklist were not completed, and the fire was not suppressed.

5. The operator’s CASA-approved emergency checklist did not contain smoke evacuation procedures.

6. The pilot did not attempt to extend the landing gear using the emergency gear extension when he did not to get a positive indication that the gear was down and locked.

7. The aircraft landed on the right main landing gear and slid to a stop on the right main gear, left engine nacelle and nose.

The fractured fuel return line, feeding the fire (source © unknown)

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