Nordic Regional E190 near Turku on Dec 3rd 2017, smell of smoke in cabin

Last Update: November 28, 2018 / 18:50:52 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 3, 2017


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Embraer ERJ-190

ICAO Type Designator

A Nordic Regional Airlines Embraer ERJ-190 on behalf of Finnair, registration OH-LKE performing flight AY-865 from Helsinki (Finland) to Gothenburg (Sweden) with 100 passengers and 4 crew, was climbing out of Helsinki about 30nm south of Turku (Finland) when the crew stopped the climb at about FL310 and diverted to Turku reporting smell of smoke in the cabin. The aircraft landed safely on Turku's runway 26 about 15 minutes later. The aircraft was evacuated via slides, there were no injuries. Attending emergency services found no trace of fire, heat or smoke.

A passenger reported there was smell of smoke intensifying as if there was a small fire on board. The aircraft diverted to Turku, the passengers went down the inflatable slides and were taken to the terminal.

The airline confirmed smell of smoke in the cabin prompted the diversion to Turku and emergency evacuation. There were no injuries. Arrangements are being made to take the passengers to Gothenburg.

Finland's Onnettomuustutkintakeskus (SIAF) opened a safety investigation into the occurrence reporting there was smoke in the cabin. In the afternoon of Dec 4th 2017 the SIAF added, that the source of the smoke was identified in the malfunctioning air conditioning system.

On Nov 28th 2018 the SIAF released their final report concluding the probable causes of the occurrence were:

1. The rotating assemblies – i.e., the cooling fan, compressor and both turbines – of an ACM contacted the fan shroud as a result of the failure of journal bearings.

Conclusion: The ACM failure generated smoke.

2. A cabin crew member notified the flight crew of smoke and a possible fire. The flight crew also smelt smoke. A warning of the ACM failure was only received after smoke had appeared. The occupants also felt pressure fluctuations. Warnings related to the crew oxygen system appeared and a message indicating an automatic pressurization control anomaly displayed.

Conclusion: Smoke and a possible fire are extremely serious inflight occurrences and necessitate landing at the nearest suitable airfield. Simultaneous failure indications increased the flight crew's workload.

3. A cabin crew member was unable to open the protective bag of a PBE. Tests showed that a pull of approximately 25 kp would have been needed. The task would have been easier had the bag been modified according to the manufacturer's service bulletin.

Conclusion: The modification is non-mandatory, but non-compliance may preclude the use of a PBE in an emergency. A crew member must be able to extract and don a PBE easily and expeditiously since it will be crucial to the maintenance of the wearer's functional capability in the presence of smoke and fire.

4. The passengers were transported from the movement area to the evacuation point in two city buses that were requisitioned on a fire chief's initiative pursuant to the provisions of the Rescue Act.

Conclusion: Turku aerodrome had in place no plans for the use of local buses, and the same applies to most of Finavia’s other airports. Under certain weather conditions the moving of the passengers from the accident site without undue delay will be essential.

5. The captain notified area control of a fire on board the airplane and declared emergency. Area control relayed the information to Turku ATC, which in turn alerted the ERC to respond to a full emergency situation.

Conclusion: The alerting instructions guide an ATC controller to classify an inflight fire as a full emergency situation. Pursuant to the instructions, the Southwestern Finland ERC, among other agencies, will not order the region’s hospitals to elevate readiness when a full emergency is reported.

6. The flaps were selected “up” already during the landing roll.

Conclusion: The flaps will more likely be found extended during an evacuation if the post-landing procedures are initiated only after the speed has reduced to the taxiing speed. This will reduce the drop height from the wing walkway by approximately 0.5 m.

The SAIF reported the crew noticed fluctuations in the cabin pressure after takeoff, noticeable by both pressure indications and feel in the ears. The crew continued the flight increasing monitoring of the cabin pressure and decided to level off at FL310 as a precaution. Intermittent low pressure warnings for the crew oxygen system occurred, then an advisory of a pressurization problem occurred, which however did not require a flight crew action. Soon after a burning odour developed on board which the crew initially believed to have originated from an oven in the forward galley. The smell intensified prompting the crew to return to Helsinki. After the crew had initiated the return and had turned around cabin crew reported there was smoke in the cabin and something was burning. The captain thus declared Mayday, reported a fire on board, soon after a PACK 1 FAIL message occurred. Smoke entered the cockpit, the flight crew donned their oxygen masks and decided to divert to Turku. One of the cabin crew tried to open her protective breathing equipment but was unable to open the protective bag. The aircraft landed on Turku's runway 26 and vacated the runway. Cabin crew notified the cockpit that the smoke had intensified prompting the captain to initiate an emergency evacuation.

The SAIF concluded the narrative of the sequence of events: "The passengers exited the airplane via door slides and overwing exits. Those who left the cabin via the overwing exits did not get off the wings down to the ground. Since climbing from the wings involved a risk of injury, and smoke was no longer observed inside the airplane, the rescue crews prompted these passengers to return to the cabin and exit via the slides. The rescue crews examined the airplane for signs of fire and found none. The passengers were taken in buses and rescue vehicles to the aerodrome maintenance unit facility where they were accounted for and their condition was assessed."

There were no serious injuries, the #1 Air Cycle Machine (ACM) showed damage. An overwing exit door also showed minor damage and hat caused a dent in the wing upper skin. A sensor in the crew oxygen system was found defective (unrelated to the ACM fault).
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 3, 2017


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Embraer ERJ-190

ICAO Type Designator

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