Narrative:AirTran flight 956 departed Atlanta at 15:41. At 1543:10, as the airplane was climbing through about 3800 feet, the flight crew observed numerous circuit breakers trip and several annunciator panel lights illuminate. The first officer than radioed a request to level off at 4000 feet and stated that they wanted to return to the airport. About 15:50, the airplane landed on runway 26R. After the landing, during the airplane's exit from the runway onto taxiway B-3, one of the flight attendants reported to the flight crew that smoke could be seen emanating from the left sidewall in the forward cabin; air traffic control personnel also notified the flight crew that smoke was coming from the airplane. The flight crew then initiated an emergency evacuation on one of the taxiways. Airport rescue and firefighting personnel assisted in subduing the fire.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The leakage of lavatory fluid from the airplane's forward lavatory onto electrical connectors, which caused shorting that led to a fire. Contributing to the accident were the inadequate servicing of the lavatory and the failure of maintenance to ensure reinstallation of the shield over the fuselage station 237 disconnect panel."
Follow-up / safety actions
As a result of the accident involving AirTran flight 956, Boeing issued Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) DC9-24A190 on July 31, 2001, to all operators of DC-9 airplanes. The ASB recommends that operators visually inspect the connectors at the FS 237 disconnect panel for evidence of lavatory rinse fluid contamination and that they install a drip shield over the disconnect panel. To prevent waste tank overflows, Boeing also issued Service Letter (SL) DC-9-SL-53-101 on March 22, 2002, to operators to stress the importance of properly sealing floor panels and adhering to lavatory servicing procedures specified in the DC-9 maintenance
NTSB issued 2 Safety Recommendations
Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations
Fire damage to the left forward areas of the fuselage
Airflow influenced the soot pattern on the side of the aircraft.
Soot pattern exiting the outflow valve, located towards the tail of the aircraft. Indicates that smoke and soot traveled throughout the ventilation system.
Location where firefighters attempted to gain access to the seat of the fire.
Close up of fire department access.
Fire damage to the radio rack vent.
The floor structure and carpet of the passenger cabin exhibited fire damage from the left sidewall to the centerline of the airplane. The seat tracks under seats 1A and 1C were buckled from heat exposure
Close up of wiring located underneath the damaged flooring in the first class cabin.
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA to Akron/Canton Regional Airport, OH as the crow flies is 845 km (528 miles).