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Aircraft fumes events declining

The number of reported aircraft fumes and smoke occurrences involving high capacity aircraft in Australia is trending significantly lower, according to an ATSB report.

Report into Emerging trends in Australian aviation safety January – June 2015

Fumes and smoke events, which generally occur in the cockpit or cabin of larger passenger aircraft, are required to be reported to the ATSB.

During the April to June 2015 quarter, there were only 42 fumes and smoke events reported to the ATSB, down from 90 in the same quarter a year before.

The decrease has been attributed to the positive safety action of one major Australian airline.

Between January and June 2015, the operator reported only three fumes and smoke events to the ATSB. This represents a significant decrease from the operator’s five-year average of 16.8 occurrences per quarter.

The operator’s decrease in fumes and smoke events were likely the result of:

  • the retirement of older generation aircraft
  • a reduction in the number of flights
  • modifications of some engines
  • changes made to maintenance activities.

While all other airlines were consistent with their 5-year average, none of the 88 fumes and smoke occurrences were classified as high risk.

Systems issues, primarily relating to failure or malfunction of electrical and auxiliary power unit systems are the most common source of aircraft fumes and smoke. Equipment and furnishings (such as air conditioning and galley equipment) are also a common source.

Read the report Emerging trends in Australian aviation safety January – June 2015

Read an analysis of fumes and smoke events in Australia from 2008 to 2012

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Last update 11 May 2016