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Final Report

Summary

At about 1330 Western Standard Time on the 7 August 2016, a Skippers Aviation de Havilland DHC-8 aircraft, registered VH-XFP, departed Perth Airport for Shark Bay Western Australia. Two flight crew, one cabin crew and 30 passengers were on board the regular public transport flight.

As the aircraft approached the cruising altitude flight level (FL) 180, the master warning activated and the cabin pressure warning light illuminated. The crew observed that the cabin altitude indicated about 12,600 ft with an excessive rate of climb, where the rate of climb indicator had gone to its maximum indicated reading. They conducted their phase one memory checklist items for a rapid depressurisation and an emergency descent. Both crewmembers fitted their oxygen masks and the captain, who was not the flying pilot, took control of the aircraft. The captain made an announcement through the aircraft’s public announcement system. However, the announcement was muffled and distorted and the cabin crewmember did not understand what was being said. The first officer declared an emergency (PAN PAN) to air traffic control and advised that they were on descent through FL 175.

The captain levelled the aircraft at about 10,000 ft, re-engaged the autopilot and the crew conducted the cabin pressurisation failure checklist. The crew were not able to regain control of the cabin pressurisation.

The aircraft returned for a landing at Perth without further incident. The two flight crew, one cabin crew and 30 passengers were not injured and the aircraft was not damaged.

The reaction time for pilots to fit oxygen masks is of critical importance when there is a cabin pressurisation failure. For the crew in this occurrence, it was the first action taken when they detected that the cabin pressure warning light was on. 

 

Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 55

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