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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau did not conduct an on-scene investigation of this occurrence. The report presented below was prepared principally from information supplied to the Bureau.


On 15 January 2005, at about 0915 eastern summer time, an Airbus A320 aircraft, registered ZK-OJA, with a crew of six and 135 passengers, departed Christchurch, New Zealand on a scheduled passenger service to Melbourne, Victoria.

During descent, the flight crew noticed a strong, sweet, solvent smell. They immediately advised the purser who reported that there was a strong smell in the forward cabin similar to that being experienced on the flight deck. No abnormal smells were evident in the main cabin, but there was a strong smell in the rear cabin similar to that in the forward cabin. A crew member in the rear cabin reported feeling unwell and nauseous. The flight crew donned oxygen masks and broadcast a Pan-Pan transmission1 to air traffic control.

The flight was completed without further incident.

The aircraft was returned to service following an engineering examination that found no environmental, mechanical or operational factors that could have influenced the circumstances of the occurrence.

1A Pan-Pan transmission is made in the case of an urgency condition which concerns the safety of an aircraft or its occupants but where the flight crew does not require immediate assistance.

General details
Date: 15 January 2005 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0917 hours ESuT  
Location   (show map):31 km E Melbourne, Aero. Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Fumes 
Release date: 03 May 2005 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industrie 
Aircraft model: A320 
Aircraft registration: ZK-OJA 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Christchurch, NZ
Departure time:1844 hours ESuT
Destination:Melbourne, VIC
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Last update 16 February 2016