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Sun melts carpet in a 300c


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I sent a report to Schweizer/Sikorsky & the FAA this past week.

 

This is an area of concern for immediate attention.

 

We had a 300c on our ramp facing North, the tail was pointed to the South and the sun was directly behind the tail at about 1pm in the afternoon, the left door was closed, the right door was held open by the nitrogen cylinder, there was a pilot in training in the left seat and the instructor standing on the ramp to the right of the open door. The student said '’I smell something burning’ and upon a very quick inspection the instructor found the carpet on the floor of the cabin had melted.

 

The sun had reflected off of the concave clear window on the open door and focused a bright concentrated sun point on the carpet, much like a magnifying glass would do. We had another newer 300c sitting in the same direction and went to check it out and it did the same thing, heating up a rubber floor mat where the sun was focused. The melting of the carpet happened in LESS THAN 30 SECONDS.

 

I wonder if this could happen with other types of helicopters? I suggest everyone address this situation in your various helicopters and train your pilots to be vigilant for these conditions.

 

Here is a link to the photos, i think you will be surprised;

 

http://s298.photobuc...in%20the%20sun/

 

Details:

 

Our ramp is at 5673’

 

It was 1:20 in the afternoon.

 

The nose of the aircraft was pointing directly North, the Sun was at about 15 degrees off the tail to the South East.

 

It was a very clear day and the sun was bright.

 

We had two 300s on the ramp pointed in the same direction, one was an older Model with dark carpet, the other a newer one with rubber floor mats. Both did exactly the same thing upon closer inspection. We have only operated this 300 for a couple of months but it appears this has happened in the past to this ship.

 

The carpet is an original part and there are no entrees in the logbook indicating that it has ever been changed (although being an older 300, it has low time and was hangared all it’s life).

 

The doors are original parts as are the windscreens.

 

It doesn’t seem to be the round vents that are producing the focus point, rather the complete windscreen (we covered up the vents with our hands and there was no change).

 

We also found a melted spot on the rubber mat of yet another newer 300c in the same area on the floor but we cannot completely confirm that it was due to the same issue, but, we expect it is. This is a different 300 than the one that was on the ramp that duplicated the phenomenon, an even newer model than the other two.

 

The doors were at the full open position and as the sun moved the beam became less focused, one of the older burns on the carpet looks like the door had been blowing in the wind and thus caused a number of fine lines of darkened carpet.

 

If you will notice in the photos, the light is focused in an oval about eight inches in diameter, and it looks harmless, but the issue is a smaller dime/quarter size focused beam in the lower left portion of the larger circle.

 

One of our instructors noted that in the past he had felt heat on his leg while sitting in the helo with the door open but didn’t relate it to the sun. I remember something similar as well a couple of years ago, also in a 300c.

 

We will be removing the carpet and replacing it with the rubber mat.

 

We have contacted the other area schools, put notices up at our office and briefed all of our students on this issue and we hope you will do the same. Not many folks that we spoke to have even heard about something like this happening.

 

sincerely,

 

dp

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would send all that info to the FAA, NTSB, and manufactures. That is without a doubt something that operators should be warned about. If a chart or something more combustible was at the point of focus that could get ugly fast. Does anyone know of a 300 burning up on the ramp for no apparent reason?

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Totally agree with you and have done so, i have also asked all the insurance folks i know of your question about a helo burning up on the ramp for no apparent reason... they are talking to people they know.

 

keep getting it out there, folks need to know.

 

dp

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting topic. We're getting a refurbished EC120 from Eurocopter and they asked us if we want carpet or vinyl flooring. We haven't decided but we didn't think either one would be an issue however since it'll be for tours I prefer vinyl because if a pax gets sick it's easier to clean and with the Texas summer heat I don't want a carpet to keep the helo hot inside.

 

Any ideas pro or con?

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