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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-17-001
Synopsis: On July 29, 2016, about 12:58 am Pacific daylight time, the pilot of a Piper PA-31T airplane, N661TC, reported the smell of smoke in the cockpit to air traffic control (ATC) and indicated that he wanted to return to the departure airport in Crescent City, California. ATC provided the clearance for the flight. About 1 minute later, the pilot reported that he had smoke in the cockpit and declared an emergency. There were no further communications from the pilot. According to the flight’s primary radar returns, the airplane continued to fly for about 3 minutes before breaking up in flight. The wreckage was found in tree-covered terrain near Arcata/Eureka Airport, McKinleyville, California. The airplane was being operated by Cal-Ore Life Flight as an air transport medical flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The airline transport pilot, two medical personnel, and one patient died.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) that requires owners and operators of Piper PA-31T-series airplanes to take the actions recommended in Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-17-05 immediately after the AD is issued. (Urgent)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: McKinleyville, CA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: WPR16FA153
Accident Reports: ​Safety Recommendation Report: Unsafe Wiring Conditions in Piper Model PA-31T-Series Airplane Floor-Mounted Circuit Breaker Panels
Report #: ASR-17-001
Accident Date: 7/29/2016
Issue Date: 1/10/2017
Date Closed: 4/27/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 4/27/2017
Response: We note that AD 2017-02-06, which became effective on February 22, 2017, required owners and operators of Piper PA-31T-series airplanes to conduct, within 30 days, a detailed visual inspection of the wiring below the main circuit breaker panel for proper clearance and evidence of damage, and to reroute or replace wires and parts as necessary. We also note that, unlike the Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin, the AD requires (1) the use of mirrors, a suitable light source, and other equipment (small cameras, borescopes, magnification, and the like) to conduct the visual inspection of the area; and (2) repetitive inspections at intervals not to exceed 12 calendar months. These actions satisfy the intent of Safety Recommendation A-17-1, which is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
Date: 1/27/2017
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: Risk analysis performed by the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Small Airplane Directorate indicates the affected airplanes are at a high risk of another unsafe event. In response, the FAA issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) CE-17 -05, Electrical Power/Electrical Power System Wiring, on December 16, 2016. This SAIB alerts owners and operators of Piper Aircraft, Inc. (Piper) Models PA-31T, PA-31Tl, PA-31T2, PA-31 T3, and PA-31 P-350 airplanes of an airworthiness concern, specifically at the floor mounted circuit breaker panel area between the pilot and co-pilot. This SAIB also provides information on wiring conditions that could lead to chafing, thermal stress, or arcing in the area directly below the floor circuit breaker panel. The SAID also recommends best practices for securing high electric current wires in the referenced Piper airplane models. This SAIB is available at: and_ Guidance _Library/rgSAIB.nsf/O/ac6119302542bec38625808b 0070c555/$FILE/CE-17-05.pdf. Piper also released Service Bulletin (SB) No. 1301, Wiring Inspection, on January 6, 2017, to mandate a recurring inspection of the wiring in the area in question and correct any issues found. This SB is available at: https://system.netsuite.cornlcore/media/ 15 3 8523&_xt=.pdf.