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On 22 March 2011, an Airbus Industrie A330-203 aircraft, registered VH-EBL, was being operated by Qantas Airways, on a scheduled flight from Manila to Sydney, New South Wales. At about 365 NM (676 km) northwest of Cairns, at 39,000 ft, a smell became noticeable on the flight deck and the passenger cabin. The flight crew actioned the aircraft quick reference handbook checklist for Smoke/Fumes/Avionics which removed the odour.

Following electrical arcing of the left windshield heater, a small flame appeared from the bottom left corner of the captain's windshield. The crew donned oxygen masks and extinguished the flame using the cockpit BCF fire extinguisher. There were about four more occasions when arcing and flames appeared and were extinguished. The crew advised air traffic control (ATC) that due to a technical issue they would be diverting to Cairns. The crew also advised ATC that they had extinguished repeated fires as a result of electrical arcing in the captain's windshield heater. ATC declared an INCERFA. The captain advised that emergency services were not required but would advise if the situation changed. The aircraft completed an uneventful landing at Cairns a short time later and the INCERFA was cancelled.

Due to similar reported events, the aircraft operator had in place a windshield replacement program, with a projected completion date for the replacement of identified windshields, by the end of September 2011. This was well within the Airbus Industrie compliance date of May 2012.

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General details
Date: 22 March 2011 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 16:38 UTC  
Location   (show map):365 km NW of Cairns Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Windows 
Release date: 12 September 2011 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus Industrie 
Aircraft model: A330 
Aircraft registration: VH-EBL 
Serial number: 976 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Sydney, NSW
Destination:Manila, Philippines
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Last update 01 March 2016