Aviation safety investigations & reports

Smoke event - VH-OTD, 19 km NE of Sydney aerodrome NSW, 9 July 2009

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 9 July 2009, at about 2108 Eastern Standard Time a British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 32 aircraft, registered VH-OTD, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Sydney to Williamtown, New South Wales (NSW), with two crew and six passengers.

During climb to 9,000 ft, and about 19 km northeast of Sydney, the flight crew noticed a strong electrical burning smell in the cabin. The flight crew requested and received clearance from air traffic control for an immediate return to Sydney. Faced with a high workload, the crew chose not to don their emergency oxygen masks during the return flight to Sydney.

Following an uneventual landing, the crew noticed a light haze of smoke below the roof of the cabin. After the passengers disembarked, engineering staff located the source of smoke as the weather radar indicator.

Examination of the weather radar indicator found that burning of a control circuit board had occurred, damaging the printed circuit board substrate. The damage was not the result of an aircraft system fault.

Research published by the ATSB has shown that the second most common cause of in-flight medical and incapacitation events was exposure to toxic smoke and fumes. Use of supplemental breathing equipment is an important defence against pilot incapacitation.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.07MB]
General details
Date: 09 July 2009   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2108 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 19 km NE of Sydney aerodrome    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Smoke  
Release date: 29 June 2010   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer British Aerospace PLC  
Aircraft model 3200  
Aircraft registration VH-OTD  
Serial number 978  
Type of operation Air Transport Low Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Williamtown, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018