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paulftw
23rd Mar 2011, 16:14
PASSENGERS on a Qantas flight from the Philippines to Sydney yesterday were left terrified after pilots had to put out an electrical fire in the cockpit and the plane was forced to land in Cairns.

Small flames on the flight deck of the Airbus A330-200 were initially put out by the automatic safety systems, but within minutes the fire began again, forcing the three pilots, who were wearing oxygen masks, to use an extinguisher.

Qantas said the blaze was caused by an electrical problem in the system that heats the windscreen, the same fault that forced a Jetstar A330-200 en route from Japan to Australia to land on the Pacific island of Guam in 2009.

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One of the 147 passengers on board the flight told the Herald the incident had been ''truly scary''.

The 56-year-old said: ''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. Later he explained flames had come back for a second time and they'd had to use a fire extinguisher in the cockpit.

''Whenever you hear a pilot talk about a fire on a plane it's truly scary. Clearly the incident could have been catastrophic.''

But the passenger also praised the captain for his calmness during the situation: ''He was very composed over the loudspeaker and when the plane landed he took the time to walk back and talk to the passengers.''

The fire began at 3.35pm Sydney time. The plane arrived in Cairns 50 minutes later.

A Qantas pilot told the Herald last night that such faults were potentially ''very serious''.

''With that electrical malfunction a circuit-breaker system should trip out and the problem go away. That the flames came back means there was another fault,'' he said. ''Any time pilots have to use extinguishers in such a confined area as the cockpit isn't a good situation. They would have had to land the plane at the nearest suitable airport. It sounds like it was potentially a very serious situation.''

A Qantas spokesman praised the pilots and said the airline had notified the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. ''The pilots did a fantastic job to bring the situation under control and calmly redirected the plane to Cairns Airport for a standard, but unscheduled, landing.''

glad rag
23rd Mar 2011, 17:57
I don't get the tone of your original title, it would seem Qantas operators did a sterling job to recover from a electrical system malfunction :ok:

HAWK21M
23rd Mar 2011, 18:04
Why did the related CB not trip?.

Kiltrash
23rd Mar 2011, 18:05
I am sure that people more knowledgable would be able to quantify the rate of instances that each airline suffer reportable issues

I feel this shows that Qantas will be no better or worse than average however Qantas are very good at being open in reporting and not hiding issues

I am very happy to fly Qantas and other reputable carriers as no 'western' airline would knowingly comprimise safety

I work in the oil industry and safety IS our number one priority, even more so than excess profit

goshdarnit
23rd Mar 2011, 20:13
@ Kiltrash

I work in the oil industry and safety IS our number one priority, even more so than excess profit

Seriously?

Loose rivets
23rd Mar 2011, 20:30
I'm happy with the skipper telling me what's going on, but I fear, no, I know, that many passengers will be fazed by being let into aviation's little secrets.


A very measured communication is needed.


I have this image in my mind's eye of the skipper standing there talking with a crinkly smile and a smoking uniform.

Willoz269
23rd Mar 2011, 23:38
A few threads below this one is a B757 that had an issue with fire in the cockpit....why is it that as soon as it is Qantas, everyone feels like they are experts ready to tell a company for which you are not qualified enough to work in, how to do things?

The A330 is maintained in house, this happens, move on! :suspect:

PJ2
24th Mar 2011, 00:33
Why did the related CB not trip?.
There isn't one in the usual sense of the term. Normally cb's are not employed in the usual way we think. There are two WHC, (Windshield Heat Computer) cb's in the cockpit. The QRH drill is:

COCKPIT WINDSHIELD/WINDOW ARCING
Affected WINDSHIELD/WINDOW WHC reset button ............................... PULL
In case of electrical arcing, pull the the Window Heat Computer reset button that is located on the affected side.
WINDSHIELD/WINDOW LEFT SIDE - WHC 1 (261 VU).
WINDSHIELD/WINDOW RIGHT SIDE - WHC 2 (262 VU)

Clearly there was something more seriously wrong, and the crew dealt with the problem.

In the broader sense of fault sensing, warning and "triage", the Airbus faults are sensed by a number of computer systems which take action such as selecting an alternate system or component, turning systems or a system component off, etc, while presenting ECAM messages, illuminating caution or warning lights and sounding auditory attention-getters of various kinds.

It is part of this extensive warning and maintenance system which generates the ACARS messages. Most cb's on the Airbus are used to re-boot computers, an SOP which is done from the QRH. The L1011 was something like this though most of its cb's were the kind we usually expect.

If a system wasn't functioning as expected, cycling the cb would often fix the problem. In any case, there are very few cb's in the A330/A340 cockpit - just a few on the rear overhead to re-boot FMGECs, CIDS, etc. All other cb's are under the cockpit in the EE bay and one simply doesn't go down there, not, at least, without exceptional reason.

As for this event, there is not nearly enough information to know what actually happened. An arcing windshield can turn into a serious event but arcing and/or shattering windshields, (outer pane only) is not as uncommon as we may believe.

I understand the crew followed SOPs transferring control to the pilot with the clear windshield.

Fire is serious under all circumstances. This ended well and now the investigation will determine why the event escalated from arcing to fire.

QANTAS can't f_rt these days without the media trying to sell more newspapers squawking about the next near-death experience. If there is organizational stress, QANTAS' reputation is that they are eminently qualified to determine same and deal with it without the media's assistance.

Brian Abraham
24th Mar 2011, 01:31
I work in the oil industry and safety IS our number one priority, even more so than excess profit Which oil company do you work for? Certainly not my experience, though they do yarp on about safety a lot, it's all smokescreen.

Escape Path
24th Mar 2011, 04:54
A Qantas pilot told the Herald last night that such faults were potentially ''very serious''.

Hmmm...I was strongly advised (as a part of a newly hired pilots in a past airline) that all the talking is done by the corresponding people and that we should in no way talk about any incident or something like that about the airline or else we would face well, the tea and biscuits without the tea and biscuits :}

Anyway, if anything is to be said about this story is kudos to the crew for managing a problem properly (or so it seems so far).

All these "chain of events" with Qantas is only showing how good the crews are trained there since every incident reported by the media has only shown good outcomes :D

Old Fella
24th Mar 2011, 05:44
Having read PJ2's post and some of the comments therein I am more than ever convinced that electronic control and actuation of some systems is not always the way to go. If the CB's mentioned control only a computer, which presumably controls the associated switching and relays involved with the Windshield Heating System, then what happens when a relay malfunctions and continues to allow power to the system, regardless of what the computer tells it to do? Having had the experience of a Windshield Heat transformer catch fire behind a cockpit panel I know that having the power supply CB accessible in the cockpit was very helpful. Pull the CB for the power and, usually, the problem is solved.

PJ2
24th Mar 2011, 06:33
Old Fella, (btw, that's not what George Carlin called us...);

I'm an old fella too but have flown all the electric 'bus types since '92. It has its quirks but so do all the others. Quirks are not a problem if one knows one's airplane.

I'm surprised it wasn't DC-ATE, but I knew someone here would pick up this notion about "control" and use my contribution against the Airbus but I have to tell you that from experience, that the airplane works as well as any other design and I've flown old Douglases, Boeings and Lockheeds as well.

All this old argument needs is a single counter-example, but there are plenty.

An arcing windshield isn't limited to the bus, nor are other strange sources of ignition and subsequent fire. The B767 had a serious problem with cargo fires some time back. As the report says, in this case there wasn't even a cb to pull. A TSB Report can be found here (http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2002/a02o0123/a02o0123.asp). There have been at least three windshield fires on the B757. SW111...all these aircraft used standard cb's. Need we say more?

I understand what you're saying, but often pulling the cb, just like a computer shutting off a component, is done when it's too late and nearby bits and pieces start burning and there is nothing to do but fight the fire and land asap. That was the nature of the B767 cargo fire at Toronto...and that one didn't have a cb.

If one flies the Airbus and knows the type well, a good dialogue about the airplane and it's characteristics can be engaged. The notions about computers and airplanes have been demonstrated time and again here as outdated or mis-informed. The Airbus has some faults but in making those observations I think you first have to know the airplane well enough to be able to find them and talk about them.

That does not mean there isn't a few very serious problems concerning automated flight. But almost all those problems stem from not knowing one's airplane, not following (or worse, not knowing) the SOPs or from other standard human factors issues, (such as incorrect entry of weights...happens on all types).

Anyway...cheers, I still liked the sound of Conways starting up...

PJ2

giggitygiggity
24th Mar 2011, 08:00
@Kiltrash:I work in the oil industry and safety IS our number one priority, even more so than excess profit

To second goshdarnits comment... Seriously?

lplsprog
24th Mar 2011, 08:59
Try telling that to the people in the Gulf States how BP put safety first!!!:}

swh
24th Mar 2011, 11:04
If a system wasn't functioning as expected, cycling the cb would often fix the problem. In any case, there are very few cb's in the A330/A340 cockpit - just a few on the rear overhead to re-boot FMGECs, CIDS, etc.

Small point, on the overhead panel pilots have access to computer resets not CBs, the CB are located elsewhere, mainly in the avionics bay.

Heathrow Harry
24th Mar 2011, 11:21
they didn't kill anywhere near as many people as the airline business does every year

Lonewolf_50
24th Mar 2011, 12:59
Harry, might that be due to them very cleverly not leaving the ground with such frequency? :E

sb_sfo
24th Mar 2011, 14:09
Harry,
They specialize in killing fish, turtles and pelicans quickly. Humans, they kill slowly:ugh:

PJ2
24th Mar 2011, 17:43
swh;

Thank you...good catch. They look like cb's, but in fact are exactly as you say.

PJ2

abc1
24th Mar 2011, 18:12
A Kantas spokes person reiterated that they are aware of the damage that Qf is doing to the rest of the group and stressed ''we are doing all that We can to prevent such occurrences in the future''.

Asked how, the spoke's person retorted
''Well it doesn't or wouldn't ever happen on Jeetstaa or any other locost, does it?, and as such we are motivated and working as hard as we can to get rid off those inept mainline staff and rhetoric. As you can appreciate, in the modern world we have to do it slowly and subtly and that takes time to have the whole place called jeeeetstaaa''.

SLFguy
25th Mar 2011, 13:06
"Which oil company do you work for? Certainly not my experience, though they do yarp on about safety a lot, it's all smokescreen."

The this experience you speak of must be minimal.

The mindset in the companies I work for is safety first, $ second. Each time - every time.

FlightPathOBN
28th Mar 2011, 21:27
Looks like a general problem, not just an Airbus issue...

Faulty windshield heater led to United jet's cockpit fire (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/faulty_windshield_heater_led_to_lVmi3h03UyQVPCDtTHwcUI)


FAA Tells Airlines to Fix Cockpit Window Heaters (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=11131216)

Shell Management
3rd Apr 2011, 13:25
slfguy
Very true. It is amazing how much more self-congratualory & complacent the aviation industry is compared to the energy industry.

Brian Abraham
4th Apr 2011, 00:59
You mean to hold this as the standard to which aviation must aspire Shellie?

Esso compliance - Local News - News - General - Gippsland Times (http://sale.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/esso-compliance/2068753.aspx)

07 Feb, 2011 03:49 PM
ESSO will comply with a condition placed by WorkSafe on a licence to operate its Longford plant.

WorkSafe imposed the condition, which came into effect on January 24, following four separate incidents since December 2008 where corroded pipelines have caused crude oil or gas to leak.

The most recent incident was last August, when WorkSafe issued two safety improvement notices to Esso after a crude oil leak.

WorkSafe health and safety executive director Ian Forsyth said by putting a condition on the licence, Esso was required to ramp up its safety program and provide an extra level of assurance to WorkSafe that it was on top of safety issues.

"These events have raised concerns about the effectiveness of Esso's maintenance of pipes and related structures at Longford,'' he said.

"We don't want to be dealing with pipe maintenance issues on a piecemeal basis - we want assurance from Esso that they're across the issue and are putting specific steps in place to deal with it.''

Under the licence condition, Esso needs to, by July:

Demonstrate that improved pipeline maintenance means the risk of corrosion and leakage is reducing;

Analyse past corrosion incidents, and identify any trends in these incidents;

Identify measures to stop further incidents from occurring; and

Develop a plan to implement these measures.

WorkSafe will seek proof that the condition has been met through written evidence and inspections.

"WorkSafe's technical inspectors carry out annual in-depth inspections of every major hazard facility in Victoria, as well as two or three visits between every inspection - in addition to the longer-term work we do with individual facilities,'' Mr Forsyth said.

"The local community deserves the assurance that these issues are being properly managed.''

All Victorian major hazard facilities, such as the Esso plant at Longford, must hold a licence, issued by WorkSafe Victoria, in order to operate.

A spokesperson for ExxonMobil, Esso's parent company, said it would fully comply with the condition and was committed to ensuring the safety the employees and contractors.

"We welcome any opportunity to review and continuously improve our operations,'' she said.

You have to ask yourself what lessons they have learnt since they killed two people, badly burnt eight and cut the gas supply to the state for two weeks in late 1998.

Seems they have just had some trouble with a pipe laying barge as well. Barge crew declined to operate in the prevailing weather conditions as they were out of limits, but the oil company demanded they get on the with the job. Time is money yarda yarda. Barge now laid up for an estimated two months for repairs.

The attitude is endemic in the oil industry despite all the safety window dressing. They have absolutely nothing to teach the aviation industry, except how not to do it.

flying_a_nix_box
4th Apr 2011, 09:36
Seems they have just had some trouble with a pipe laying barge as well. Barge crew declined to operate in the prevailing weather conditions as they were out of limits, but the oil company demanded they get on the with the job. Time is money yarda yarda. Barge now laid up for an estimated two months for repairs.

Sounds like typical "no idea" management not listening to the techs who know what they are on about.