Aviation occurrence briefs

Smoke event involving Fairchild Industries SA227-DC, Essendon Airport, Vic., on 7 March 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 7 March 2018, at about 2018 Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDT), a Fairchild SA-227-DC arrived at Essendon airport and taxied clear of the runway. During taxi, the flight crew noticed a smell and observed a smoke haze about half way down the cabin. The aircraft was shut down and the crew and passengers evacuated the aircraft safely. Fire services were not required. Following exterior safety checks, the aircraft was towed to maintenance for investigation.

Following investigation of the aircraft’s air-conditioning system, it was discovered that the left cooling turbine was seized and unable to be rotated. Evidence of metal fragments were also found around the cooling turbine body. Significant damage to the turbine impeller was also observed due to contact within the cooling turbine housing (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Left cooling turbine impeller damage

Figure 1: Left cooling turbine impeller damage

Source: Aircraft operator annotated by ATSB

Safety message

Smoke and fumes can originate from any number of aircraft systems during any stage of aircraft operation. This incident highlights the effective flight crew management of maintaining awareness at all times and carrying out the actions required to ensure the situation was handled effectively, including the evacuation of the aircraft.

The joint CASA and ATSB research report AR-2013-213, An analysis of fumes and smoke events in Australian aviation, found that a majority of smoke and fumes events were minor in consequence and that they were generally managed appropriately by the flight crews.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 07 March 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2018 EDT    
Location   (show map): Essendon Airport    
State: New South Wales    
Release Date: 16 May 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Fairchild Industries Inc  
Aircraft model SA227-DC  
Type of operation Air Transport Low Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 11 July 2018