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Windshield terminal block failure

Issue number: AO-2009-027-SI-01
Who it affects: Operators of Airbus A330 aircraft
Issue owner: Airbus Industrie
Operation affected: Aviation: Other
Background: Investigation Report AO-2009-027
Date: 07 October 2011

Safety issue description

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.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Qantas Airways
Action number: AO-2009-027-NSA-004
Date: 02 August 2009
Action status: Closed

Following the incident involving VH-EBF, an inspection of all windshields from A330 aircraft that were operated by both Jetstar Airways and Qantas (the Qantas Group) was performed.

The inspections commenced on 11 June 2009 and the ATSB were advised that all aircraft had been inspected within a 24-hour period. No defects associated with the occurrence were found. The ATSB were also advised that the windshield replacement program (Airbus SB A330-56-3009) was completed across the Qantas Group of applicable aircraft in April 2011.

ATSB response:

The ATSB is satisfied that the action taken to date, by the various organisations will, when completed, adequately address this safety issue.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Airbus Industrie
Action number: AO-2009-027-NSA-076
Date: 07 October 2011
Action status: Closed

Worldwide windshield replacement program In May 2010, the aircraft manufacturer issued service bulletins (SBs) A330-56-3009 that implemented a windshield recall, removal and replacement program. The program applied to a batch of approximately 1,500 windshields that had been manufactured between January 2007 and October 2008 where PR1829 polysulfide sealant had been used as a filling agent within the terminal block.

The SB recommended a visual inspection of the left and right windshields to determine whether they were part of the batch containing PR1829 sealant. If identified, Airbus recommended that the affected windshields be replaced within 900 flight hours. Airbus reported to the ATSB that the airlines which had been initially affected by in-flight windshield overheat events would be prioritised in the replacement program. Windshield manufacturing processes Airbus advised the ATSB that they were working with the windshield manufacturer in order to mitigate the possibility of recurrent windshield overheat events.

Improvements to the windshield manufacturing processes include:

• polysulfide sealant (PR1829) is no longer used within the body of the terminal block

• the crimping process for electrical connectors has been improved

• the braided wire lengths inside the connector block and the electrical connector pin installation method have been optimised, which has resulted in the reduced potential for contact to occur between the power and sensor wires.

Information to operators

On 11 June 2009, one day after the in-flight fire aboard VH-EBF, Airbus released an Operator Information Telex (OIT) to all operators of their aircraft advising of the occurrence. A revision to that OIT was subsequently released on 3 July 2009 advising operators that another windshield arcing/burning event had also occurred. On 17 August 2009, a Flight Operations Telex (FOT) was sent to all operators of Airbus A300, A310, A318, A319, A320, A321, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft that advised of the recent events where fire/arcing/burning/smoke was experienced in the cockpit environment from the apparent failure of the windshield heat connector. The FOT was directed to all flight operations departments of airlines that operated susceptible Airbus aircraft types. The FOT was aimed to ensure that crews applied the correct procedure in the event of electrical arcing, burning or smoke being experienced during flight.

ATSB response:

The ATSB is satisfied that that the action taken to date, by the various organisations will, when completed, adequately address this safety issue.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Jetstar Airways
Action number: AO-2009-027-NSA-077
Date: 07 October 2011
Action status: Closed

Following the incident involving VH-EBF, an inspection of all windshields from A330 aircraft that were operated by both Jetstar Airways and Qantas (the Qantas Group) was performed.

The inspections commenced on 11 June 2009 and the ATSB were advised that all aircraft had been inspected within a 24-hour period. No defects associated with the occurrence were found. The ATSB were also advised that the windshield replacement program (Airbus SB A330-56-3009) was completed across the Qantas Group of applicable aircraft in April 2011.

ATSB response:

The ATSB is satisfied that that the action taken to date, by the various organisations will, when completed, adequately address this safety issue.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: European Aviation Safety Agency
Action number: AO-2009-027-NSA-078
Date: 07 October 2011
Action status: Closed

EASA has indicated to the ATSB that an Airworthiness Directive is intended to be released that will require all European operators of applicable Airbus aircraft to comply with the Airbus windshield replacement program. At the time of the release of the report, EASA were uncertain when the Airworthiness Directive would be publicly released.

ATSB response:

The ATSB is satisfied that the actions taken to date, by the various organisations will, when completed, adequately address this safety issue.

   
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Status justification:

The ATSB is confident that with the introduction of the Airbus windshield retrofit program that this safety issue has been addressed.

 
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Last update 13 February 2014