Commutair DH8B near Hartford on Jun 5th 2015, fire in cockpit

Last Update: January 13, 2016 / 14:21:37 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jun 5, 2015



Flight number

Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

A Commutair de Havilland Dash 8-200 on behalf of United, registration N363PH performing flight C5-4776/UA-4776 from Newark,NJ to Hartford,CT (USA) with 37 passengers and 3 crew, was descending towards Hartford checking in with approach control when the crew donned their oxygen masks and declared emergency reporting a fire, smoke and flames, in the cockpit. The crew advised they would be able to make the airport and requested the fire trucks advising they would perform an emergency evacuation as soon as on the ground. Upon checking in with tower the crew advised the fire was out, they would be able to vacate the runway. The aircraft landed safely on runway 06 about 6 minutes after reporting the fire and vacated the runway via taxiway K, tower closed the airport nonetheless due to the emergency services attending to the aircraft. The passengers rapidly deplaned onto the taxiway and were bussed to the terminal.

Local Police reported the crew put out a small fire in the cockpit using a fire extinguisher.

The airline confirmed a fire in the cockpit about 5 minutes prior to landing.

The NTSB have opened an investigation.

On Jun 9th 2015 the FAA reported the crew reported a fire in the cockpit, after landing the occupants left the aircraft through main and emergency doors.

On Jun 17th 2015 the NTSB confirmed in a first preliminary note that the crew encountered an inflight cockpit fire, donned their oxygen masks and continued for a safe landing, there were no injuries, the aircraft sustained minor damage. The occurrence was rated an incident and is being investigated, investigators have travelled on site.

On Dec 25th 2015 the NTSB updated the preliminary information stating, that the crew observed a pop sound followed by arcing from the right hand windshield terminal block developing into a fire. The crew donned their oxygen masks, declared emergency, the first officer discharged a fire extinguisher, and the crew performed a successful emergency landing. The crew reported there were no caution or warning indications, none of the circuit breakers popped. The right hand windshield sustained damage in the area of the terminal block, the inner ply was fractured.

The NTSB added that examination of the faulty windshield revealed evidence of moisture ingress, there was also evidence of repair work done to the moisture seal along the entire upper and aft edges. The windshield had been last inspected 3,582 flights hour prior to the occurrence with inspections required every C-check (10,000 hours) and the heater block every 12,000 hours.

On Jan 13th 2016 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the incident was:

The arcing failure of the windshield heat power wire on the right windshield due to unknown reasons. Contributing to the severity of the fire was the lack of training or guidance provided to the crew for selecting the windshield heat to off that would cut power to the circuit.

The NTSB added, that after landing the windshield heat selector switch was found in the normal position, selecting the switch to the off position would have cut power to the windshield heating system. The crew had undertaken at least two attempts to extinguish the fire with no success, the fire eventually extinguished itself. The NTSB stated: "There is no training or guidance provided to the crew for windshield arcing, smoke, fire, or overheat events."

The NTSB stated: "Examination of the windshield revealed that it had been installed on the airplane since manufacture more than 17 years prior to the incident, which far exceeded the average life of 8.2 years reported by the windshield manufacturer. The windshield exhibited typical signs of aging with ample evidence of moisture ingression into the laminate around the edges of the windshield. The aging discrepancies noted were within the published limits and did not contribute to the failure. The fire damage was concentrated in an area between the upper edge of the terminal block and the lower edge of the windshield gasket where the power wire was routed. The power wire was melted through in this area but remained soldered to the bottom of the terminal block indicating an arcing failure of the power wire. The damage and melting precluded determining if there was any pre-existing damage to the power wire prior to the incident. The arcing of the power wire produced enough localized heating to melt the glass and cause the fracture of the inner glass pane."
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jun 5, 2015



Flight number

Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

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