NTSB Identification: CHI97IA041.
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Scheduled 14 CFR operation of USAIR
Incident occurred Wednesday, December 11, 1996 in TERRE HAUTE, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Boeing 757-225, registration: N603AU
Injuries: 184 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

Before departing on a scheduled passenger flight, a flight attendant noticed an electrical odor in the airplane's rear section. She advised the first officer, who consulted a mechanic. The mechanic found nothing wrong, and the flight departed a short time later. While en route, a flight attendant reported an electrical odor in the same area. After an investigation by the captain, the odor diminished, and the rear cabin temperature was lowered. Shortly after this action, smoke and fire were visible in the floor and side wall area. The captain declared an emergency and diverted to an alternate airport. During approach to the airport, the fire was extinguished, then an uneventful landing was made. Examination of the burned area revealed an audio-entertainment system cable had become shorted. Burning had resulted in minor damage to the airplane. Further investigation revealed that the cable had not been properly installed, and that the STC did not provide specific instructions for cable routing, except that it should be placed under a seat rail cover.

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

inadequate installation of electrical wiring for an audio entertainment system associated with Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA5537NM, and a subsequent short in the wiring. Factors relating to the accident were: inadequate design (installation instructions) by the STC holder (Hughes-Avicom International), and inadequate maintenance by company maintenance personnel.

Full narrative available

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