LAX96TA046
LAX96TA046

On November 16, 1995, at 0900 hours Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, N92505, was substantially damaged by a fire in the right main landing gear while taxiing for departure at Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, California. The aircraft was operated by the U.S. Navy as a public-use aircraft in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91. The U.S. Navy pilot, who held an Airline Transport Pilot license, was not injured. The aircraft was registered to Avex Inc., of Camarillo, California, and leased to the U.S. Navy. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed. The flight was departing to the Camarillo airport at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that after releasing the aircraft's parking brake, he taxied from base operations to runway 22 behind a KC-135 aircraft [a distance of about 2.1 miles]. As he approached the runway hold-short line he lost brake pressure, shutoff the engine, and let the aircraft coast to a stop. He exited the aircraft and noted brake fluid leaking onto the ground and smoke coming from the right wheel brake. The pilot then returned to the cockpit and called on the radio for fire equipment. After not finding a fire extinguisher aboard the aircraft, he again exited the aircraft and was walking to a ramp fire extinguisher about 500 feet away when the smoking right brake ignited. The fire was subsequently extinguished by crash and rescue personnel. The pilot attributed the brake fire to "parking brake master cylinder or parking brake linkage failure causing a minor binding of brakes."

Inspectors from the FAA's Van Nuys, California, Flight Standards District Office reported that the right main landing gear area of the aircraft had been involved in a fire which consumed the tire and wheel fairing. A 2-foot diameter hole had burned through the wing in the area aft of the main spar and forward of the wing flap. The left main landing gear and wheel assembly, which did not burn, showed evidence of extreme temperature. The brake caliper was leaking fluid, the brake disk was distorted and discolored, and the tire sidewall was heat damaged in the area adjacent to the brake disk.

The owner/operator of the aircraft told the NTSB investigator that the pilot had not completed the ground school and flight training required by the owners contract with the Navy prior to operating the aircraft. He also had not complied with the owner's scheduling and dispatch procedures. The aircraft was grounded for maintenance of the autopilot at the time, and was parked in the maintenance area when the pilot took it. The aircraft was unlocked and no key is required to start the engine. The operator further said that his lineman had told him that the pilot "cranked and cranked" the engine until the lineman showed him how to turn the magnetos on for starting. The lineman also reported that he could hear the brakes dragging as the aircraft taxied away.

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