This paper will review the July 10, 2007 aviation accident involving a Cessna 310R, N501N, operated by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing corporate aviation division as a personal flight. The aircraft crashed while attempting an emergency in to Orlando Sanford International Airport, Sanford, Florida after experiencing an in-flight fire. The flight had been released for flight despite it having a known unrepaired maintenance discrepancy. Safety issues discussed in this paper relate to the resetting of circuit breakers, the inspection and maintenance of electrical systems in general aviation aircraft, and the establishment of safety management systems in general aviation corporate aviation operations. Safety recommendations regarding these issues are addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration. (NTSB, 2009)
On July 10, 2007 at approximately 0835 eastern daylight time a Cessna Aircraft Company 310R registration number N501N that was operated by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) corporate aviation department crashed while performing an emergency diversion to Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Sanford, Florida. The two pilots on board the airplane, a commercial pilot, and an airline transport pilot as well as three people on the ground were fatally injured. Four other people on the ground received serious injuries. The aircraft and two houses were completely destroyed by impact forces and a post crash fire. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 under an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the actions and decisions by NASCAR’s corporate aviation department’s management and maintenance personnel to allow the accident aircraft to be released for flight with a known and unrepaired discrepancy, as well as the accident pilots’ decision to operate the aircraft with the known discrepancy, a discrepancy that most likely resulted in an in-flight fire. (NTSB, 2009) According to NASCAR’s corporate aviation department personnel, the commercial pilot was acting as pilot-in-command (PIC) for the personal flight, with the Airline Transportation Pilot (ATP) was acting as a “safety pilot” because only ATP pilots are authorized to fly NASCAR aircraft. The aircraft departed Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Daytona Beach, Florida, about 0822, with a destination of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, Florida. (NTSB, 2009) According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control records, at approximately 0832:49 eastern standard time, shortly after reaching a cruise altitude of 6,000 feet above sea level, the ATP pilot took control of the aircraft and contacted air traffic control tower at Sanford Orlando International Airport (SFB) to declare an in flight emergency, stating, “smoke in the cockpit we need…to land at Sanford. The air traffic controller cleared the flight to proceed directly to SFB and to descend to 2,000 feet. DAB airport surveillance radar data indicated that the airplane subsequently turned toward SFB and began to descend. The last radio transmission from the airplane was received about 0833:15. This transmission terminated midsentence and seemed to include the phrase, “shutoff all radios, electrical”. (NTSB, 2009) The airplane was not equipped with a built-in fire extinguishing system, and it was not required to be equipped with such a system. NASCAR personnel stated that a handheld fire extinguisher was installed in the aircraft, as required by regulations, and was mounted on the cockpit floor just forward of the right side pilot’s seat. Investigators were unable to locate the airplane’s handheld fire extinguisher in the wreckage and, therefore, could not determine if the pilots engaged in any smoke- or...
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