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FAA: Keep Loose Equipment Secured in the Cockpit

May 27, 2010 — The FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) to remind owners, operators, and installers to secure loose equipment in the flight compartment, particularly items placed on the glare shield. The SAIB was prompted by a recent incident aboard a Mitsubishi MU-2B in which thick black smoke filled the cockpit, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing. It was later determined that an electrical short circuit was caused by a hand-held GPS receiver’s metal antenna which inadvertently made contact across the windshield heater terminal strips. The resulting current flow caused the loose equipment to burn, creating smoke in the cockpit. The GPS and antenna had been placed on the MU-2B glare shield.

Owners and operators should recognize the potential for exposed terminal strips to be attached to high current windshield heating systems and refrain from placing any loose items on the glare shield that might cause an electrical short and subsequent electrical fire, the FAA stressed. Items on the shield could also obscure the crew’s field of view as well as potentially influence magnetic compass accuracy. The FAA recommends that all loose or portable items and equipment be properly secured prior to and during the flight. Portable or loose equipment should be isolated from other installed equipment and ensure the magnetic compass is not affected by any magnetic or electrical influence from portable or loose equipment.

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