Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Fire forces Airbus to land

AFP, SYDNEY

A cockpit fire forced a Qantas Airbus A330-200 to make an unscheduled landing in Cairns, Australia, yesterday in the latest of a string of problems for the Australian carrier.

The plane was en route from Manila to Sydney when an electrical fault caused smoke and small flames near the left-hand windscreen of the cockpit.

The pilots used an extinguisher to douse the fire and diverted to the nearest airport — Cairns.

“A windscreen heating electrical fault occurred which caused smoke and small one to two centimeter flames near the left hand windscreen in the cockpit which the pilots extinguished,” a Qantas spokesman said. “We have started an internal investigation to establish the cause of the incident and have notified the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.”

He added that no ill effects or injuries were experienced by any of the 147 passengers or 11 crew.

A passenger told the Sydney Morning Herald that the incident was “truly scary.”

“There was a burning smell in the cabin that was very strong, and then the captain came over the loudspeaker and explained an electrical problem meant there was a serious risk of fire,” he said. “Later, he explained flames had come back for a second time and they’d had to use a fire extinguisher in the cockpit.”

Qantas paid tribute to the pilots for staying calm.

“The pilots did a fantastic job to bring the situation under control and calmly redirected the plane to Cairns Airport for a standard, but unscheduled landing,” the airline’s spokesman said.

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