Aviation safety investigations & reports

Boeing Co 737-476, VH-TJR

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Prior to the first flight of the day, the Boeing 737 aircraft cabin was found to contain smoke and fumes. While the crew returned to the crew room, maintenance personnel inspected the aircraft and found that the auxiliary power unit (APU) had malfunctioned. The cabin was cleared of fumes and the aircraft despatched with an unserviceable APU. For a short time after takeoff, some smoke and fumes were observed in the cabin but cleared.

At around 6,000 ft on approach to Sydney, fumes were again detected; most noticeably in the rear of the cabin. A fast approach and normal landing ensued. Cabin staff reported that the smell dissipated when the airconditioning packs were selected to HIGH.

Company maintenance investigation found that the APU malfunction was the result of a cooling fan shaft failure. The failure allowed APU turbine oil to leak from around the shaft seal from where it was sucked into the APU inlet prior to the APU control unit initiating an auto-shutdown. The oil then entered the airconditioning system ducting and later exited into the cabin as fumes and oily smoke during that system's normal operation.

General details
Date: 29 May 2001   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0540 hours EST    
Location   (show map): Cairns, Aero.    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Air/pressurisation  
Release date: 06 February 2002   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 737  
Aircraft registration VH-TJR  
Serial number 24443  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Cairns, QLD  
Destination Syndey, NSW  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command ATPL 8904.5 10404
Co-Pilot/1st Officer ATPL 3225 7340
Last update 13 May 2014