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Cockpit fire forces Qantas diversion

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 24, 2011

A file image of VH-EBL. (Seth Jaworski)

A Qantas Airbus A330 flying from Manila to Sydney was forced to make an emergency landing in Cairns yesterday afternoon after suffering a cockpit fire.

A330-200 VH-EBL was approximately 365nm northwest of Cairns when a windscreen window heating circuit began arcing. The crew donned oxygen masks and extinguished the resultant flames from the left hand windshield heater system with a fire extinguisher, and elected to divert to Cairns, where the aircraft landed safely.

None of the 147 passengers or 11 crew onboard were injured.

”There was a burning smell in the cabin that was very strong, and then the captain came over the loudspeaker and explained an electrical problem meant there was a serious risk of fire,” a passenger on the flight told Fairfax Media. “Later he explained flames had come back for a second time and they’d had to use a fire extinguisher in the cockpit.”

The incident, now being investigated by the ATSB, appears similar to a June 2009 incident in which a Jetstar A330-200, VH-EBF, diverted to Guam on a flight from Osaka to the Gold Coast after the crew noticed a burning smell was followed by smoke and fire from the bottom right corner of the right windshield. The investigation into the Guam incident is still continuing.

A330 cockpit windows feature a thin layer of electrically conducive material, which receives power from one of two window heat computers, to prevent windscreen fogging and icing.

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