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9th of July 2005, Blog #607

A 1943-built de Havilland DH89A Dragon Rapide was operating short pleasure flights from Duxford Aerodrome (Cambridgeshire, England) on this day in aviation history in 2005.

On the 8th of September 2012, a similar fire occurred as on the 9th of July 2005 (Screenshot taken from a YouTube video by Glenn Robinson from the fire in 2012)

After completing one of these flights noth the engines (de Havilland Gipsy Queen 3 piston engines) were shut down, and the passengers disembarked after which the passengers for the next flight boarded. (8 passengers)

After the passengers were seated and the necessary preparations were completed the port engine was started, followed by the starboard engine. (both engines were starting without priming the fuel system) As the starboard engine was started the pilot observed a fire spreading over the lower starboard wing, outboard of the #2 engine. The engines were immediately shut down by the pilot after which he initiated an evacuation of the occupants. With the evacuation completed the pilot assisted with initial (successful) firefighting efforts until airport fire and rescue services arrived. An eyewitness reported that during the engine start a long flame came out of the exhaust of the righthand engine. This flame started a fire on the fabric-covered lower surface of the lower starboard wing, outboard of the engine.

The damage to the wing, as a result of the fire, extended over a length of approximately 3.3 metres (spanwise) from the leading edge to the trailing edge

A de Havilland Gipsy Queen 3, piston engine (Source & ©

A detailed examination of the aircraft was carried out by the operator's engineer and no evidence was found of the fire initiating inside the wing structure. The only explanation for the fire was the reported flame from the exhaust. The engine was extensively tested, both during ground runs and during test flights after the aircraft was repaired, without any faults being found on the engine (no leaks) nor were any adjustments required. There was nothing wrong with the engine. In the early 1950s, several so-called "start-up" fires had been reported on DH89A aircraft. This led to the manufacturer issuing a Technical News Sheet series CT(89), titled ‘Fire Precautions’. This News Sheet mentioned the application of an engine modification, (which had been embodied on the accident aircraft) specific maintenance inspections and adherence to the engine shutdown procedure.

The aircraft was repaired and returned to flight, On the 8th of September 2012, a similar fire occurred. A video of this fire is available below.

YouTube video by Glenn Robinson of the 2012 fire

The Air Accident Investigation Branch reported on this fire in their December 2005 bulletin. This bulletin, which served as the source for this blog can be accessed by clicking on the .pdf file below.

DH89A_Dragon_Rapide 9Jul2005 Wing fire
Download PDF • 208KB

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