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Bonza 737 MAX 8 given all clear after cockpit odour

written by Jake Nelson | April 24, 2024

Passengers disembark VH-UJK “Sheila” after Bonza’s first flight from Darwin to the Sunshine Coast. (Image: Bonza)

A Bonza 737 MAX 8 has returned to the sky after a minor incident at Sunshine Coast Airport.

Despite media reports of smoke in the flight deck of VH-UJK “Sheila” (pictured) as it operated flight AB570 from Avalon on Tuesday, a Bonza spokesperson has told Australian Aviation that the two pilots only reported an unusual odour and were unharmed.

While emergency services were initially called to the airport, they were ultimately not needed, and passengers and crew were able to disembark safely.

“Bonza investigated reports overnight of an abnormal odour in the flight deck of AB570 travelling from Melbourne Avalon to the Sunshine Coast and after a full assessment by engineers, the aircraft has been given the all clear,” the spokesperson said.

“The flight arrived at the expected arrival time and all customers and crew disembarked without incident. Two flight crew underwent precautionary checks and were cleared soon after.”


VH-UJK has since returned to service after its assessment, taking off for flight AB583 to Cairns just after 10:30 on Wednesday.

Bonza currently has a fleet of six 737 MAX 8s, two of which have been dry-leased from sister Canadian airline Flair.

Only four of the MAX 8s are currently operating Bonza flights, however, as one of the two dry-leased planes, C-FLKC “Matilda”, is operating flights for Flair in North America, while the other, C-FLHI “Bruce”, has been grounded since late February as it awaits re-registration by CASA.

Speaking to Australian Aviation earlier this year, Bonza chief executive officer Tim Jordan said the airline is targeting a fleet of nine or 10 aircraft by the end of 2024 as it looks to break even in the near future.

“What we’re looking to do is have the six aircraft bedded in and operating positively after the ramp-up of the Gold Coast, and for that to be maintained through until the middle of the year,” he said.

“After that period of, I won’t say standing still, because we’re learning every single day, but bedding those aircraft in, we will then look to grow in the third and fourth quarter with the fleet going up to nine or 10 aircraft, and that will also involve a likely fourth base.”

Bonza is one of only two Australian airlines to operate the 737 MAX family, with Virgin Australia having received its fourth 737 MAX 8 last month. Virgin’s order of 31 new 737 MAX aircraft, including six MAX 8s and all 25 of its MAX 10s, has been delayed by the ongoing troubles at Boeing.

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