Cirrus To Issue SB On Brake Overheating, Fires

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Don't Ride The Brakes

Cirrus Design plans to issue a Service Bulletin on all its aircraft in response to a spate of brake fires (the most recent of which occurred Dec. 9) that have caused serious damage to at least five aircraft. The SB will call for the installation of color-changing temperature sensors on the brake components so that pilots can tell -- during the preflight -- if the brakes have been previously overheated. Cirrus spokesman Ian Bentley said overheating can cause failure of an O-ring. Failure of the O-ring allows flammable brake fluid to leak onto potentially hot parts. If they're hot enough, the brake fluid ignites and causes a stubborn fire that can really make a mess of a low-wing plastic airplane. The latest such incident occurred at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport in Houston and appears to be typical of the others. According to the NTSB preliminary report, the pilot had taxied almost a mile before stopping for his run-up and that's when the tower called him to tell him the right gear was on fire. He and his two passengers got out and tried to put the fire out with the on-board extinguisher, which apparently was not up to the task. A couple of mechanics from a nearby hangar managed to put the fire out with larger extinguishers but not before both the gear and wing were substantially damaged.