NTSB Identification: LAX96FA284.
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Accident occurred Monday, July 22, 1996 in CORNING, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 210M, registration: N6002N
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported an in-flight electrical problem to air traffic control and requested a descent for an immediate landing at the next airport. The airplane was seen descending and emanating smoke from the cabin until it crashed about 12 miles from the airport. Examination of the airplane revealed evidence of an in-flight fire. The interior of the airplane's cabin had evidence of fire on the flight controls and heavy smoke accumulation. Portions of the airplane's windshield were no longer translucent due to sooting on the interior surfaces. The source of fire was traced to a 100-amp inductive noise filter mounted directly to the airplane's firewall. There was evidence of an electrical insulation failure between an electrical terminal and the steel case of the filter. The filter was not marked as an FAA approved part and was not listed in the manufacturer's parts catalog. The airplane's electrical system had been altered with installation of a filter on the alternator output 3.5 years before the accident. There was no circuit protection or isolation mount for the 100-amp filter. The repair station that performed the work did not file an FAA Form 337. The airplane had a history of maintenance performed on the electrical system since the installation of the filter. The maintenance also included the completion of annual inspections and one repair station had replaced the 100-amp filter with another used filter.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

improper installation of an electrical component, during an alteration of the aircraft electrical system; and subsequent electrical insulation failure, which resulted in electrical shorting, arcing, and an electrical fire. Factors relating to the accident were: inadequate maintenance record keeping (by not filing FAA Form 337), smoke in the cabin, and the resultant restriction of the pilot's vision, which impeded his ability to control the airplane as it neared the ground.

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