Aviation safety investigations & reports

Accredited representative to the Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission’s investigation into an air contamination event involving Bombardier Inc. DHC-8-402, VH-QOE, on 16 March 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase


On 16 March 2020 a Bombardier DHC-8-402 registered VH-QOE, departed Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Shortly after take-off, the flight crew detected fumes in the cockpit. Passing FL 100 on climb, the fumes became stronger and the cabin crew also reported detecting a fume smell in the cabin.

The flight crew donned oxygen masks and levelled off at FL 180. The first officer then made a PAN call and requested a return to Port Moresby. After switching off the number one bleed air, as per the quick reference handbook for smoke and fumes, the flight crew observed smoke emanating from the air vents. The crew switched off the number 2 bleed air and depressurised the cabin once the aircraft had descended below FL 100, and the smoke dissipated.

The Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission (AIC) investigated the incident and requested assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

To facilitate this work the ATSB initiated an external investigation under the provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003. 

The ATSB has now concluded its involvement in the investigation. 

The AIC is responsible for and will administer the release of the final investigation report into this incident.

Any enquires relating to the investigation should be directed to the Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission.

General details
Date: 16 March 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1530 EST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location: Near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: International   Occurrence type: Smoke  
Release date: 27 August 2021   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 4th Quarter 2020    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc  
Aircraft model DHC-8-402  
Aircraft registration VH-QOE  
Serial number 4125  
Operator Qantas Link (Sunstate Airlines)  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea  
Destination Cairns, Queensland  
Last update 27 August 2021