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Accident description
Last updated: 23 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 3 April 1997
Time:19:55
Type:Silhouette image of generic C650 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 650 Citation III
Operator:Mercury Communications
Registration: N553AC
C/n / msn: 650-0198
First flight:
Total airframe hrs:2128
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Buffalo-Greater Buffalo International Airport, NY (BUF) (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Executive
Departure airport:Wellsville Municipal Airport, NY (ELZ/KELZ), United States of America
Destination airport:Buffalo-Greater Buffalo International Airport, NY (BUF/KBUF), United States of America
Narrative:
A Cessna 650 Citation III, N553AC, was substantially damaged by a fire while on approach to Buffalo, New York. The two certificated airline transport rated pilots, and one passenger were not injured.
The flight originated in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with two passengers onboard. An intermediate stop was made at Wellsville, New York, and one passenger exited the airplane. The flight then continued on to Buffalo.
While being vectored for the final approach in visual conditions, at night, the flight crew lost radio contact with the control tower and smelled smoke aboard the airplane. They continued the approach and landed, and after reaching their parking space, were notified by ground personnel of flames penetrating the top of the aft fuselage between the engines. The fire was extinguished by airport fire fighting personnel.
Postaccident investigation found a hydraulic return line in the aft equipment bay had evidence of electrical arcing and a small hole through which fluid could escape. An 115-volt electrical line used to heat the horizontal stabilizer also had evidence of rubbing on its surface. In addition to the hydraulic fluid, a pressurized fuel line to the APU was damaged by the fire and leaking fuel. A test simulating an electrical line arcing with a leaking hydraulic line resulted in a fire during each of the three tests. The production standards that Cessna used did not specify a minimum space between electrical lines and flammable fluid lines. The FAA had certified the airplane without requiring Cessna to specify a minimum spacing between electrical lines and flammable fluid lines.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "A combination hydraulic fluid and fuel-fed fire which originated from electrical arcing, due to the lack of an adequate production standard from Cessna for the separation of flammable fluid lines and electrical lines. A factor was the lack of oversight from the FAA, which allowed Cessna to space the flammable fluid lines and electrical lines at too close a position."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year
Accident number: NYC97LA068
Download report: Summary report

Sources:
» NTSB


Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 2 Safety Recommendations

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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Wellsville Municipal Airport, NY to Buffalo-Greater Buffalo International Airport, NY as the crow flies is 110 km (69 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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