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NTSB Prelim: Beech 35-C33A

The Pilot Landed On The Runway As The Cabin Filled With Smoke

Location: Indianola, MS Accident Number: CEN23LA194
Date & Time: May 18, 2023, 09:00 Local Registration: N63B
Aircraft: Beech 35-C33A Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On May 18, 2023, about 0900 central daylight time, a Beech 35-C33A, N63B, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Indianola Municipal Airport (IDL), Indianola, Mississippi. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot stated that he had flown the airplane more than 6 hours in the week before the accident. On the day of the accident flight, an engine runup was completed with no anomalies noted. After departure, the pilot smelled “burning plastic” and observed smoke from the engine compartment. He turned the airplane back toward IDL and was on the base leg of the traffic pattern when he observed a softball sized flame on the right side of the engine. He turned off the electrical system and adjusted the mixture control to cut off the fuel. The pilot landed on the runway as the cabin filled with smoke. After the airplane came to rest and the pilot egressed, the fire consumed a majority of the fuselage before it was extinguished. He added that the flames were visible on the right side near the battery box. The pilot recorded a video of the airplane on the runway after he egressed. Figure 1 is a still image from the video that shows dark smoke in the cabin and heat discoloration below the front right windscreen, near the battery box.

After the accident, the responding Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the wreckage and stated he removed the end cap from the starter and the internal components did not reveal any anomalies. All of the electrical wiring in the cabin area was burned down to bare copper wire. Also, he found no compromised fuel lines on the engine side of the firewall. He identified one melted fuel line on the cockpit side of the firewall, which would have been behind the pilot’s side of the instrument panel. Portions of the fuel line had melted around an adjacent avionics wire, which exhibited damage to the outer shielding.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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