[In behalf of SBK981A, originally posted on 22 Oct 2008]
While doing a sortie with my instructor in the Northern Training area, my instructor and I were practicing forced landing in the Pohangina Valley. We were in one of the older leased aircraft that had just joined the fleet. Everything was fine until about 30 mins into the flight when after conducting HASELL checks before stalling practice, I noticed that the ammeter was reading 60 amps (the max on the gauge). I alerted my instructor who instructed me to try alternating between the alternator and battery on/off positions. The ammeter then flicked back to 0, and a few seconds later we started to smell an electical burning smell… We immediatley switched off all electrics and waited for the smell to subside. Once it had we turned the battery on and started heading for palmy, but realised soon enough that the comms were not working, even though the intercomm was. Since we had no comms we headed for the nearest uncontrolled aerodrome which was Fielding, transmitting blind and setting 7600 on the transponder (even though it didnt appear to work either). We made a NORDO landing at Fielding and called Ops, who sent out engineers with a new battery and comm box. In the end the battery was at fault and after this was replaced we headed back to Palmy using the comms which are internally contanined within the GPS, but with no transponder.
In the end this was far from a major incident, but highlighted that we neglected to use the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) when it should have been used. We did run through it but only after we had sorted a means of getting back to Fielding…goes to show that the QRH is there for a reason and it should be used even if it seems a silly idea.