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Aaronp07

CTLS Smoke In Cockpit

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On 05-19-20, I completed a landing at my home airport after spending approximately 1.5 hours on a local flight doing full stop landings at various nearby airports in my 2009 Flight Design CTLS. After landing and turning onto the taxiway from the runway, I immediately saw a large amount of gray/white smoke billowing out of the front of my flight deck where the EFIS is located. I immediately shut the aircraft and all power down. After exiting the aircraft and gaining some distance (in a very quick manner) in case of a fire, I saw that the aircraft was not on fire at that time, and safe to approach. I examined the aircraft, but could not see any fire at that time in the darkness on the taxiway. 
 
After moving the plane back to my hanger, I removed the front top cowling as well as the passenger side EFIS in order to access the area where the smoke was coming from. I saw that the round hole where numerous wires entered the cockpit from the engine side of the firewall was charred black on both the inside and outside of the firewall. Upon examining this area, I saw that the wires had obviously rubbed the composite over time on the bottom side of the hole, and worn the wire sheathing out exposing the inside of the wires. The wires then shorted out, causing the smoke and igniting the composite on fire, causing the heavy charring. The wires in the aircraft were run through the firewall this way when I purchased it, as I have not manipulated or changed these wires in any way since I purchased the aircraft. I purchased the aircraft from a private seller in March of 2019. 
 
The fire sleeve on the wires stopped on the engine side of the firewall, and did not go though the hole in the fire wall to protect the wires. There also was no type of fire sleeve over the wires on the inside cockpit area of the firewall. 
 
I do not know the full extent of the electrical damage at this time, as I have not powered the aircraft back up after the shutdown on the taxiway when I first saw the large amount of smoke. I have also disconnected the battery. I am awaiting an avionics shop to take a look at it as soon as they are able to fit me in their schedule. I do know that at a minimum numerous wires will have to be replaced. 
 
I wanted to make everyone aware of this safety of flight issue so others can avoid the issue that I had. I was lucky that this smoke/fire occurred on the ground after landing, and not up at 10,000 feet. Also, I notified Flight Design USA this morning. They were very helpful, as usual. 
 
I have attached some photographs that I took below. 

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Firstly, glad you are safe. Glad it happened on the ground.

There was a recent AD from Flight Design re this very thing.  I bought special tape from Aircraft Spruce and complied with the AD preventing wire abrasion against the composite wall.   My fix was inspected and approved by FD USA.  Evidently a similar event occurred and FD notified the fleet.  

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Do you have any idea of the SB # for this that you mentioned? When I called FD today they did not mention that. I did provide them with a similar write up to this and the pics. Thanks in advance!

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I went to FD's website and just found the SB you mentioned. It is SB-ASTM-CTLS-17. I have attached a photo of it below. The SB only list a small # of the newer CTLS that have the newer metal ring in between the firewall. That must have been why I did not see it, as my aircraft was not affected per the SN's listed in the SB. Well it appears that the wire chaffing and short can still happen, even in our older mofel CT's without the metal ring. I bet a new SB will come out from FD addressing this now that they have been notified. 

 

 

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Similar incident: 2004 CT2k. 2 am. Belen Airport, New Mexico. Returning from a trip to New York with my wife. Got her out of a warm motel bed with promise of a pleasant flight on calm, clear night. Or maybe it was the thought of getting home quicker? Either way, it was a big deal. Taxing for takeoff. Smell burning paper or an electrical fire. Shutdown and get out quick. Sniff all around. No fire. smell is gone. Convince my wife we didn't smell fire. Get back in a start up again. Run the engine and avionics on the ground for a good long while. No smell. Start to taxi for takeoff. Smell fire. Park the plane. Spend the rest of the night in the airport lobby. Look over the plane carefully in the morning. See no evidence of a fire and no smell during subsequent startup, taxi, takeoff and flight home.

Later find that the landing light wire has rubbed on the unprotected edge of hole in the carbon fiber fire wall where the wire bundle passes through. Bare wire strands, burnt wire insulation and burnt edges of the hole. Replaced the landing light wire. Added a plastic wrap around the wire bundle. Squirted some silicon rubber around the edges of the hole.

Posted incident to CT forum on Aug 24, 2017. Was told the wires should have been protected in a fire sleeve or flexible plastic tube. Don't know what happened.

No further problem.

The above Service Bulletin does not apply to my aircraft and I do not have the metal sleeve through the hole as it depicts.

Mike Koerner

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I do have the metal sleeve.  However while performing the preventative fix in the designated area, I decided to check the whole plane for other potential problem areas.  I found another area in the baggage compartment where a wire bundle passed through the carbon layer without protection. I wrapped the wires with the "tape" specified in the AD.  Metal sleeve or not, I think everyone with a CT or any other carbon plane should trace wire bundles and see if there are any sharp carbon edges that could potentially compromise the wire(s).  I am flying today, I will take photos of the AD fix and my own fix and share.

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14 minutes ago, AGLyme said:

 However while performing the preventative fix in the designated area, I decided to check the whole plane for other potential problem areas. 

That is exactly what I thought, trace everything, and I'd also recommend taking a peek at pitot / static lines as I recently discovered one static line running to the mode C box having a rub & wear spot touching something at one time in it's past.  It was almost to point of being a hole.

My landing light wires are not factory, and I've not been happy with how someone ran them, more esthetic than concern but will take closer eye there.  Good info Mike.

When I did my panel project I was methodical to run new wires within existing bundles and such, and for the new wires to EFIS on pilot side I encased everything spiral wrap.  The lower center panel was possible to have the wires not repackage in manner that did not "loop" correctly, with them being sort of bunched and close to touching the fuel shut off lever and rod, keep an eye on that area also.

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