NTSB Identification: FTW02LA205.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 13, 2002 in Purcell, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N96PF
Injuries: 4 Minor.

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

While cruising at 4,500 feet MSL on a dark night cross-country flight, a passenger seated in the right rear seat in the 4-place airplane complained to the pilot that her seat cushion was hot and she smelled something burning. The pilot subsequently noticed that his instrument lights had dimmed and his radios were intermittently cutting out. Within minutes the leather seat cushion started to smoke and the passengers attempted to control the in-flight fire with a blanket and some bottled water. The pilot elected to make an emergency landing on an Interstate highway. He extended full flaps and touched down on the centerline of the northbound lane. He guided his 3 passengers out of the burning airplane into the shoulder of the road. The cabin of the airplane and all combustible material within the cabin of the airplane were consumed by the fire. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the required 1/2 inch thick plywood plate that was to be installed on the bottom of the right rear cushion to isolate the battery posts from making contact with the seat springs, was not installed. The one-time AD and Service Bulletin requiring the installation of the plywood board had been complied with on 17 FEB 1982. The aircraft interior had been refurbished twice since the application of the AD. The airplane was not equipped with a portable fire extinguisher.

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

The in-flight cabin fire as result of non-compliance with an AD and a Service Bulletin. A contributing factor to the accident was night conditions.

Full narrative available

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