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Incident: British Airways A320 near London on Oct 1st 2021, fumes in cockpit

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Incident: British Airways A320 near London on Oct 1st 2021, fumes in cockpit

Old 27th Oct 2021, 21:43
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I agree 3rd Dick,

Once you start running the Fumes checklist, that is game over for that aircraft and crew in my company.

We have had a significant number of events in the past, leading to a change in the shutdown procedure for the APU/Batteries at last flight of the day, to try to avoid the “wet sock” smell on start up the next day.

Once “fumes” are reported or detected, MASKS ON, PUSH TO LEVEL, RUN Checklist, get on the ground in a timely manner, it may be the precursor to a greater emergency.
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Old 27th Oct 2021, 23:22
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Thanks, Roj. Eminently sensible.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 06:11
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Since procedures do change sometimes, is this still an accurate rendering of the Airbus ECAM/QRH procedures for SMOKE/FUMES/AVNCS SMOKE? In order?

SMOKE/FUMES/AVNCS SMOKE

LAND ASAP

APPLY IMMEDIATELY
VENT EXTRACT.....OVRD
CAB FANS..............OFF
GALLEYS...............OFF
SIGNS....................ON
CKPT/CAB COM....ESTABLISH

• IF REQUIRED:
CREW OXY MASKS...ON/100%/EMERG
• IF SMOKE SOURCE IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS, ACCESSIBLE AND EXTINGUISHABLE
FAULTY EQPT......ISOLATE
• IF SMOKE SOURCE NOT IMMEDIATELY ISOLATED
DIVERSION...........INITIATE
DESCENT..............INITIATE

....etc.

What is the understood time frame for "immediately obvious" and "immediately isolated?"

What is Airbus's recommendation if any doubt exists regarding the last two items? Is it.......?
DIVERSION...........INITIATE
DESCENT..............INITIATE

What is the Airbus recommendation for troubleshooting? Is it.........?
"Once the diversion is initiated, the troubleshooting may be carried on in an attempt to identify and fight the origin of the smoke."
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 07:48
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p_i_f
See page 11, and those preceding it; and after.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bhpin7se6m...light.ppt?dl=0

A glib response, … , but with thought, it’s the day job; to know, interpret, judge, apply, according to each situation, context, and objective.

Our, individual understanding at that time, place, and need.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 09:13
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richardthethird

Exactly. I’m quite bewildered at the apparent train of thought of continuing climb with a fume event in the hope or chance that the checklist might fix the issue. Nobody is saying they should have initiated a rapid decent but at the very least level off to deal with the issue.

If I had to end up on oxygen at the initial part of a flight, there’s no way the aircraft is going anywhere other than back to the hangar!
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 08:15
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Maybe if you are (for arguments sake) at FL100 cleared to FL350 and you are presented with a problem, that doesn’t require an immediate level off, the lowest workload thing to do is to continue to follow your clearance while working the problem?

Deciding to level off, and negotiate a different clearance takes you away from focussing on the technical issue you’re presented with particularly with the communication challenges inherent in Darth Vader mode!
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 08:51
  #27 (permalink)  
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found From the GCAQE website


“A newly published study has identified increases in Ultrafine Particle (UFP) concentrations in aircraft cabins associated with normal aircraft engine and Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) operation. These results correlate with times when engine and APU oil seals are known to be less effective, enabling oil to leak into the aircraft flight deck and passenger cabins. The concentrations reached in the passenger cabins exceeded those taken in other ground-based environments. These results support that UFP exposures in aircraft cabins during normal flight are associated with adverse health consequences for long serving aircrew and some passengers.
The airline industry has focussed on occasional oil system failure events and exposure to individual substances. However, this study for the first time makes the clear link between the aircraft design factor that enables oil and other fumes to enter the aircraft air supply in normal operation and exposure to UFPs. This enables a complex mixture of chemicals associated with oil fumes to attach to the surface of the UFPs, cross the blood brain barrier and thereby enter the brain. UFPs have been raised as a causative factor in the emergence of Aerotoxic Syndrome.” GCAQE
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 10:39
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Given that the report says “climbing through FL320” suggests they did stop the climb once other, more important tasks had been completed. One assumes this happened over the channel in the climb out - a very busy piece of airspace with aircraft climbing and descending through all levels on an FIR boundary.

Quite why every tiny detail has to be scrutinised in a way akin to petty phallus waving, I’ve no idea. They diagnosed the problem, ran the procedures and returned for a safe landing. Job done. The aircraft was never in danger continuing the climb.
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 11:31
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wiggy

Totally agree with this and similar comments. There are so many armchair pilots here with a lack of "real time" flt ops who then spout forth nonsense is one of the reasons that has driven so many professional contributors away from PPRuNe. If you can't comment sensibly or just don't know about the subject then keep quiet!
The aircraft was not in any immediate danger. The cabin pressure was being maintained below 10000ft. The FMC was, presumably, programmed to climb and then level-off without further pilot input. To initiate an immediate level-off would have required a pilot to take his/her attention away from the issue at hand (probably both pilots to some degree) to communicate with ATC - in a busy environment - then re-programme the system. As it was the most sensible course of action was let the aircraft fly itself - safely - while the crew address the problem using the appropriate checklist. Exactly what they did and what one would hope all professional, experienced, pilots would do.

Last edited by Gizm0; 29th Oct 2021 at 11:39. Reason: Grammar
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 12:38
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Vokes55

Yes, Avherald appear to have interpreted the ADS-B data correctly on this occasion - maximum altitude reached was just over FL320, at which point the aircraft turned back soon after crossing the Belgian coast.

Last edited by DaveReidUK; 2nd Nov 2021 at 09:24. Reason: Reformat to restore clarity
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Old 7th Nov 2021, 15:44
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Lookleft

We had a (thankfully minor) fume even the other day; during pushback. A new 32N LEAP.
Engine start valve fault (like that never happens!!...) followed by a face full of the most awful body oder smell. It was a physical kick in the face smell; I certainly now understand how disorientating and aggressive these events can be. In flight this would have been very distressing.
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Old 7th Nov 2021, 16:58
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Referred to the AAIB will look into it with their usual thoroughness.

Let's see what they say about 'similar incidents' and the crew's actions.
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Old 8th Nov 2021, 00:06
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‘Immediate danger”

Mr Gizmo, how do you define “ immediate danger”?

interested im your( -our )risk analisis with your knowledge as there was a risk of both pilots beiing incapacitated if they did not put their masks on or not?
Lets see what the investigators find ...(?)

“If you can't comment sensibly or just don't know about the subject then keep quiet!”
‘The aircraft was not in any immediate danger.” ?? You wrote.
The crew was in danger if they had not put on their masks right?

From the aviation herald
“Subsequently the crew began to feel unwell and donned their oxygen masks. When the aircraft subsequently climbed through about FL320 the crew decided to return to London for an automatic landing. “
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Old 8th Nov 2021, 06:16
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Jwscud

A "PAN PAN" or "MAYDAY" for the Americans, "Declaring Emergency" should solve the level off and communication workload problem. (I don't work in Europe or the US, but in Australia it'll work)
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Old 9th Nov 2021, 10:01
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Hi MPT

Well we really do need to know quite a bit more about "the fumes" and how potent / noticeable they were. Just because you become aware of "an unpleasant whiff" does not necessarily mean you have to (or should) take immediate action! Most of us at some stage have experienced the "smelly socks" odour - especially on the first flight of the day. Doesn't mean that you should automatically put on masks. De-icing fluid mistakenly sprayed into or near [run-off] the APU inlet can also result in odours / fumes (unlikely in this case). I am sure that the AAIB will establish at what stage the crew felt that this was actually "an issue that requires action" - and why. As I have said before on this forum: "we weren't there"! However for the purposes of this debate I am assuming that particular point was reached when the crew began to feel unwell and not before. You asked for my reasoning in not immediately levelling / descending / diverting the aircraft - it was thus:

Normally the first course of action in an in-flight emergency is the checklist. In the case here [fumes] this is normally accomplished by "memory items" and then "follow-up actions". In the case of <fumes in the cockpit> then the item that is very, very close to the top of the memory checklist is "don masks & establish communication" (inter pilot initially). Then the rest of the checklist can be followed. One common theme of CRM is "keep the workload as low as practical". By following, at least initially, the original flight path the crew accomplished this. That is the point that many on PPRuNe seem to take issue with. Had there been a loss of pressure that would be very different but, again, that is covered in the "memory items" and I'm sure would have been actioned if required.

Another poster said 'just declare an emergency' and then basically do what you want (my italics). Whilst true this can result in a number of other issues & potential problems. To whit: ATC will need to contact & reroute other aircraft (this was very busy airspace). They are almost certainly also going to contact the subject aircraft with queries such as "confirm ABC is squawking 7700"; and "what is the nature of your emergency" plus the famous "what are your intentions". All of these require crew responses and thought trains that distract from the matter in hand. Yes these comms can indeed be ignored for a while but that further increases workload & ATC anxiety / workload.

The aircraft was flying just fine - albeit with a possible cabin air problem but not a loss of air. The crew, once masked up, were also just fine. Thus the aircraft was in no immediate danger. Follow the checklist which will, almost certainly, end with you having to divert or at least RTB. Just as this, professional, crew did.
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Old 10th Nov 2021, 16:56
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BA wont be hearing anything from the AAIB
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Old 10th Nov 2021, 18:28
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Thank you GizmO,

Having once been in a smoke incident a long time ago where the captain rushed into unnecessarily rapid action I can only agree with your analysis. Slow and calm deliberation is the only way to deal with an event like this.
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Old 10th Nov 2021, 19:06
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red9

Avherald reports that the AAIB are investigating the event (classed as a Serious Incident)?

If true, then there is no reason why a report won't be issued in the normal way, for the benefit of BA and the wider industry, most likely in one of the AAIB's Monthly Bulletins.

The investigation report may or may not be accompanied by one or more Safety Recommendations directed at BA, though that looks unlikely.
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Old 11th Nov 2021, 11:57
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This aircraft has INTERNATIONAL AERO ENGINE V2527-A5 and, although by no means conclusive, a check on A320 fume events listed in AV Herald suggests the IAE engines are more prone to this problem.
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Old 11th Nov 2021, 19:42
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Hello Gizmo,

good points, common sense, right.👍

I agree as long as you/we get the Oxygen masks on right away. Dont wait.
My humble opinion is cockpit VOC sensors should be installed, as they are on DHL 757 aircraft.

putting forth a scenario here...
If the crew did not smell the fumes, which can happen with Formaldehyde and other VOCs and poor sense of smell and then became incapacitated then the crew would be in danger, thus the aircraft.
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