Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cockpit fumes and smoke event - Boeing 747-438, VH-OEI, near Sydney Aerodrome NSW, 15 November 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.6MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 5.49MB]

On 15 November 2010, a Boeing Company 747‑438 aircraft, registered VH-OEI, departed Sydney, New South Wales on a scheduled passenger service to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

While on climb, the flight crew noticed a strong electrical smell in the cockpit, followed by smoke emanating from the left electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) control panel. The flight crew donned their oxygen masks and shortly after, observed that the circuit breaker for the left EFIS control panel had tripped and the engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS) was displaying the message 'EFIS CONTROL L'.

About 7 minutes later, the flight crew reported that the fumes were still present and were very strong, despite the fact that the smoke had ceased. After discussing the situation, the flight crew elected to return to Sydney.

During the return, a fuel dump was commenced and a descent to 10,000 ft initiated. During the descent, the flight crew determined that the fumes had stabilised, but elected to remain on oxygen as a precaution.

After landing at Sydney, the left EFIS control panel was inspected and replaced.

This incident affirms the importance of using supplemental breathing equipment as a defence against pilot incapacitation from exposure to fumes and smoke.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.6MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 5.49MB]
General details
Date: 15 November 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1200 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Sydney Aerodrome    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Smoke  
Release date: 16 May 2011   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 747  
Aircraft registration VH-OEI  
Serial number 32913  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Buenos Aires, Argentina  
Last update 14 November 2018