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All of us have received training on what to do during an engine fire, as well as a landing gear malfunction. But what do you do when both occur? It is impossible for flight training to cover every single scenario; it is at this point that one must make a judgment call, and make it right.
Early in the afternoon, an instructor and his student departed on a local training flight in a BE-76 Duchess (N23823). The sky was clear with greater than 10 miles visibility. Less than three hours later, the pilot contacted approach control stating he had an engine fire. The aircraft was 18 miles south of the departure airport and within 4 miles of another. The pilot requested a straight-in landing for the closer airport and was cleared to land.
Upon extending the gear, the instructor found that one of the gear lights did not indicate down and locked. The control tower reported seeing the gear down, but the pilot had made his decision. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft fast on final approach, followed by the application of full power and a climb out. The aircraft then rolled to the right, nosed over, and crashed. Neither occupant survived. The post-crash investigation revealed that all three wheels were indeed down and locked, but that the light on the right main gear had burned out. The Duchess POH indicates that when attempting a single-engine go-around, the pilot must retract the landing gear.
At the time of the accident, the instructor's logbooks revealed that he had accumulated approximately 1,398 total flight hours, 473 total multiengine airplane hours, and 877 hours of instruction given. Despite his flight experience, the pilot failed to follow the proper go-around procedures.
The NTSB determined the cause of this accident to be the instructor's failure to maintain the airplane's minimum controllable airspeed during a single-engine go-around, which resulted in his loss of control of the airplane.
If the engine fails in a twin, unless you're flying a turbine aircraft, try to avoid going around, especially if an engine fire compounds the emergency.
This accident report as well as others can be found in ASF's Online Database.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.