During climb, the crew noticed an odour in the cabin which was suspected to have resulted from bleed air system cleaning during earlier maintenance. Further checks carried out by the crew identified a strong smell of petrol, increasing in intensity towards the rear of the cabin. As the aircraft was carrying dangerous goods, detailed as a petrol engine in the forward hold, an immediate return to Los Angeles was initiated. During the return the smoke/fumes removal drill was carried out and fuel was jettisoned. The cabin crew were instructed to switch off any non-essential electrical equipment and the aircraft was descended to 20,000 ft. Oxygen masks were not deployed and the return to Los Angeles was completed without further incident.
A subsequent ground inspection of the forward hold revealed that a motorcycle had fallen onto its side and petrol had leaked from its fuel tank. The petrol spill had been contained within the hold. The motorcycle was offloaded, the petrol spill was cleaned up and the service continued. The operator carried out an investigation into the incident and determined that the motorcycle fuel tank had been drained to the reserve level for shipment. This complied with the dangerous goods regulations for transportation of the motorcycle in an upright position. However, the motorcycle had been inadequately restrained on its transport stand. Only two securing straps had been used instead of five, and no timber had been used between the motorcycle and the pallet floor. This had resulted in the motorcycle falling over, probably during take-off, and the remaining fuel leaking out.
The operator, in conjunction with the overseas freight handling agent, instigated an immediate retraining program for all staff involved in export handling procedures. In addition, new instructions have been issued for the handling of dangerous goods.
|Date:||11 September 1998||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Release date:||24 December 1998||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Aircraft manufacturer||The Boeing Company|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|
|Departure point||Los Angeles USA|