On 10 June 2009, the flight crew of a Jetstar Airways Airbus A330 aircraft, registered VH-EBF, flying from Osaka, Japan to Gold Coast, Queensland, observed flames at the base of the right main windshield. The fire had initiated from an electrical connection to the windshield heating system. The fire was extinguished by the flight crew and the flight diverted to Guam.
The ATSB investigation concluded that the overheat failure of the right windshield was related to the use of a polysulfide sealant (PR1829) within the body of the electrical connector terminal block. Use of that sealant had created conditions within the block which led to unintended electrical heating effects during operation of the windshield heating system. Consequentially, this had developed into the thermal breakdown of the sealant and the initiation of a localised fire.
Subsequent to the occurrence involving VH-EBF, similar windshield overheating events in other Airbus A330 and A320 aircraft were reported. The aircraft manufacturer's technical examination of those windshields concluded that contact between the braided wires within the terminal block, as well as the unintended migration of the PR1829 sealant had probably combined to trigger the reported events.
Safety action from the aircraft manufacturer included a program to identify and replace all windshields that had been produced using the PR1829 polysulfide sealant within the electrical connector terminal block assembly. That program was initiated in early 2010 and extended to the replacement of approximately 1,500 units within the world-wide Airbus fleet. The ATSB have been advised that due to limited fleet-wide completion of the windshield replacement program, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) is considering the implementation of an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that will require all European operators of applicable Airbus aircraft to comply with the Airbus windshield replacement program. The ATSB were also advised that the windshield replacement program was completed across the Qantas Group of applicable aircraft in April 2011, and that windshields fitted to other Australian operated A330 aircraft are not affected by the replacement program.
Preliminary report: 4 August 2009
On 10 June 2009 at 1205 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), an Airbus Industrie A330-202 aircraft, registered VH-EBF, departed Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan on a scheduled passenger transport service to the Gold Coast Airport, Qld., Australia with 182 passengers, 13 cabin crew and four flight crew on board.
At 1523, at approximately 427 km south-west of Guam, the flight crew noticed a burning rubber smell on the flight deck. At about that time, two caution messages were displayed to the crew identifying a fault in the right windshield heating. This was followed by a loud bang along with a flash of light, followed by smoke and fire from the bottom right corner of the right windshield. All flight crew donned oxygen masks, and a crew member used a BCF extinguisher to extinguish the fire.
The flight crew diverted the aircraft to Agana Airport, Guam, and reported that no other systems were affected by the fire. At 1614, the aircraft landed at Guam and there were no reported injuries to any of the passengers or crew.
Update: 24 March 2011
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is finalising its investigation into the June 2009 in-flight fire event that occurred in the cockpit of an Airbus A330 aircraft (registered VH-EBF) during a scheduled passenger service between Osaka, Japan and Gold Coast Airport, Queensland, Australia.
As the preliminary report on this incident indicates, the ATSB has identified the source of the fire to have been an electrical fault within a terminal block located at the lower right corner of the cockpit right forward windshield. The terminal block served to direct electrical power into the windshield's heating circuitry; ensuring they remain clear and free of ice and fogging that may otherwise interfere with the pilots' outside visibility.
Terminal block failure
Under the oversight and support of the accredited representative from the French investigation agency (Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses pour la securite de l'aviation civile, BEA), the damaged windshield terminal block was dismantled and examined in detail at the manufacturer's facilities in France. While the analysis of the technical findings will be presented in the final ATSB report, it has been ascertained that the terminal blocks of certain windshields produced between February 2007 and August 2008 were susceptible to overheating in a manner similar to that sustained during this occurrence.
The draft report on this investigation is nearing completion and distribution to directly-involved parties for comment. A final report should be published during the second quarter of 2011. However, the following safety actions have already been initiated:
Following the occurrence affecting VH-EBF, the aircraft operator inspected all windshield terminal block fittings within the aircraft in its fleet. The inspection centred on identifying any evidence of thermal effects or localised heating that may be precursor indications of a similar overheating mechanism. No such evidence was observed during any of the inspections undertaken.
In early 2010 the aircraft manufacturer initiated an ongoing retrofitting program to remove and replace all suspect aircraft windshields.
Windshields manufactured with terminal block fittings containing polysulfide sealant (PR1829) have been shown to be predisposed to premature overheating failure that could lead to the development of a localised fire.
|Who it affects:||Operators of Airbus A330 aircraft|
|Date:||10 June 2009||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1523 UTC||Investigation level:||Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|Location:||427 km south-west of Guam, USA|
|Release date:||07 October 2011||Occurrence category:||Serious Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Airbus Industrie|
|Type of operation||Air Transport High Capacity|
|Departure point||Osaka, Japan|
|Departure time||1205 UTC|
|Destination||Gold Coast, Qld|
|Role||Class of licence||Hours on type||Hours total|