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On 17 May 2005, a Boeing 717-200, registered VH-VQI, was scheduled to operate a regular public transport flight from Hobart to Sydney, departing at 0600 Eastern Standard Time. During the starting of the right engine, the aircraft dispatcher informed the flight crew that there was smoke and sparks shooting from the right engine and advised 'we'll have to get everyone off'. The pilot in command called for an emergency evacuation without initiating the Passenger Evacuation Checklist. As a result, the wing flaps were not set to the extended position and the tail section of the aircraft was dark without emergency lighting while passengers were exiting the aircraft. All three of the floor level exits were opened by cabin crew. The forward Door Right 1 escape slide fell to the ground uninflated when the door was opened. A number of ground personnel ran to the front of the aircraft and helped 22 passengers off the forward Door Left 1 slide and directed them towards the terminal. Four passengers exited by the Door 2 slide at the rear of the aircraft and ran into the middle of the apron. The overwing exits were not opened. The aircraft's dispatcher had not received any education in emergency communications with flight crew nor aircraft evacuations at the terminal. The flight crew were engaged in conversations not confined to the engine start process or other operational matters during both engine start sequences until the problem with the right engine was first mentioned by the dispatcher. The reported smoke and sparks was a result of the right engine air turbine starter failing during the engine start sequence.

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General details
Date: 17 May 2005 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0606 hours EST  
Location   (show map):Hobart, Aero. Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Tasmania Occurrence type: Fire 
Release date: 31 October 2006 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: The Boeing Company 
Aircraft model: 717 
Aircraft registration: VH-VQI 
Serial number: 55095 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Hobart, TAS
Destination:Sydney, NSW
Crew details
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total

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Last update 16 February 2016