Aviation safety investigations & reports

Smoke event involving Bombardier Inc. DHC-8-300, VH-TQH, Adelaide Airport, South Australia, on 23 June 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 23 June 2017, at about 1549 Central Standard Time,[1] a QantasLink Bombardier DHC-8-315 aircraft, registered VH-TQH, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Port Lincoln to Adelaide, South Australia. There were two flight crew, two cabin crew and 46 passengers on board.

During final approach to runway 23, at about 300 ft, the captain noticed fumes in the cockpit and mentioned this to the first officer (FO), who did not notice the smell. Shortly after, at about 200 ft, both crew detected electrical/chemical burning fumes. Light grey smoke was coming from the switch on the aileron/rudder trim control panel. The captain instructed the FO to focus on the landing and they would manage the problem when they were on the ground. The captain notified air traffic control of smoke in the cockpit and requested emergency services.

After landing, the aircraft was stopped on the taxiway and the captain called for the Smoke checklist to be completed. The smoke had dissipated from the cockpit, but fumes were still present. This involved donning oxygen masks, switching the microphone to mask, and turning the recirculation fans off to prevent the smoke being circulated within the aircraft. The captain then called the cabin crew about the smoke. The cabin crew member indicated passengers seated in rows 4 and 5 could also smell the fumes, but there was no smoke. All passengers and crew members disembarked the aircraft onto the taxiway.

While the crew were disembarking, the aviation rescue and firefighting personnel attempted to enter the aircraft, but unintentionally blocked the exit. This resulted in a minor delay for crew exiting. The crew were also not allowed to remove the first aid kit from the aircraft by the aviation rescue and firefighting personnel.

There were no reported injuries or ill effects from the smoke and fumes, and the aircraft was not damaged.

The engineering inspection found the rudder trim potentiometer was blackened and burnt.

This incident highlights the effective flight crew management of an in‑flight issue during a critical phase of flight.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 62


[1]     Central Standard Time (CST): Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) + 9.5 hours.

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General details
Date: 23 June 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 15:49 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Adelaide Airport    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Smoke  
Release date: 05 September 2017   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc  
Aircraft model DHC-8-315  
Aircraft registration VH-TQH  
Serial number 597  
Operator Eastern Australia Airlines  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Port Lincoln, SA  
Destination Adelaide, SA  
Last update 14 November 2018