Aviation occurrence briefs

Smoke event involving Boeing B737-8, near Townsville, Qld, on 19 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 19 March 2018, a Boeing 737-8 departed Brisbane, Queensland (Qld) on a scheduled passenger flight to Townsville, Qld. On descent, at about 2130 Eastern Standard Time (EST), cabin crew became aware of smoke emanating from a point of sale (POS) machine.

The cabin supervisor contacted the flight crew and relayed guidance obtained from the flight crew to the cabin crew member managing the event. The cabin crew subsequently removed, isolated and submerged the battery and the device in water. However, communication difficulties between the cabin supervisor and the cabin crew were experienced during the event.

Safety message

Fire and smoke on an aircraft can eventuate from a range of sources. As such, crew members must remain vigilant during all stages of flight to ensure that any situation that arises is handled effectively.

In addition to operational procedures, non-technical skills for cabin crew, such as crew communication and coordination are imperative in any abnormal or emergency situation. An example of effective crew coordination between flight and cabin crew can be found in previous ATSB investigation; Tailstrike involving Airbus A320, VH-VGF, at Melbourne Airport, Victoria on 11 May 2016. Operators are therefore reminded of the benefits of providing cabin crew with the opportunity to practice these skills. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) provide guidance in the Cabin Crew Safety Training Manual as well as Civil Aviation Advisory Publication (CAAP) SMS-3(1) Non-Technical Skills Training and Assessment for Regular Public Transport Operations.

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: 19 March 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2130 EST    
Location   (show map): Near Townsville    
State: Queensland    
Release Date: 20 April 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 737-8  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 12 December 2018