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Cockpit fire forces Qantas plane to divert

Posted by on March 24, 2011 0 Comment

A QANTAS Airbus flying from the Philippines to Sydney has made a forced landing in Cairns after a fire broke out in the plane’s cockpit.

Qantas says the Airbus A330 was forced to land in Cairns yesterday afternoon after an electrical fault caused smoke and small flames to appear near the left-hand windscreen of the cockpit.

The airline praised the pilots for reacting calmly to the fire, saying they showed quick thinking in donning oxygen masks and extinguishing the flames, while diverting the Sydney-bound flight to the nearest airport.

“There were no ill effects or injuries experienced by any of the 147 passengers or 11 crew, and all passengers were accommodated on other domestic services to complete their journey to Sydney,” a Qantas spokesman said in a statement.

He said the pilots were being praised for “their calm response to the incident.”

A 56-year-old passenger on board the flight described the incident as “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,” the man told Fairfax media.

“Later he explained flames had come back for a second time and they’d had to use a fire extinguisher in the cockpit.

“Whenever you hear a pilot talk about a fire on a plane it’s truly scary. Clearly the incident could have been catastrophic.”

The passenger also praised the captain for his calmness during the situation.

“He was very composed over the loudspeaker and when the plane landed he took the time to walk back and talk to the passengers,” he said.

The fire broke out at 3.35pm (AEDT) and the plane arrived in Cairns 50 minutes later.

Qantas said the incident would be investigated, and that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had been notified.

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