Spirit A20N near Fort Lauderdale on Jan 28th 2018, fumes on board, crew feeling increasingly incapacitated

Last Update: February 10, 2018 / 23:17:38 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 28, 2018


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320-200N

ICAO Type Designator

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320-200N, registration N902NK performing flight NK-517 from Akron/Canton,OH to Fort Lauderdale,FL (USA), was enroute at FL380 about one hour prior to estimated landing, when a passenger began to complain about an abnormal smell on board. Cabin crew attending to the passenger confirmed the unusual smell, that became stronger and stronger until the cabin air became nearly "not breathable". The flight crew was informed, informed ATC about the fumes on board and began to descend the aircraft early, about 20 minutes prior to landing the captain confirmed the odour in the cockpit, too, the flight crew donned their oxygen masks. Flight attendants felt increasingly nauseous, a number indicated they nearly passed out over the odour. Below 10,000 feet the captain depressurized the aircraft, the cabin air improved. The aircraft landed on Fort Lauderdale's runway 10L about one hour after the first passenger complaint. Emergency services needed to treat flight and cabin crew still on board of the aircraft, all cabin crew and flight crew were taken to hospitals.

First information reaching The Aviation Herald on Jan 30th 2018 stated: "This afternoon Spirit Airlines incurred a severe full engine wet seal breach fume event. The Capt was nearly incapacitated on landing and was on quick don emergency cockpit oxygen." Subsequent research established the following:

First medical findings indicate seriously increased levels of carbon monoxide with all members of the cabin crew, several flight attendants reached levels near lethal values.

One flight attendant suffered a heart condition, which currently can not be ruled out to become chronic.

Another flight attendant suffered from disorientation, migraine and loss of memory, a nerve ending inflammation was diagnosed.

The flight attendants were kept in hospital care until Jan 31st 2018 and were released into home care subsequently, but still feel ill.

According to information The Aviation Herald received the captain felt first symptoms of incapacitation during landing, too. Maintenance boarded the aircraft after landing, could not detect any odour and was about to return the aircraft to service, when the captain intervened stating that there had been a serious fume event. One of the engine (PW1127G) wet seals was subsequently found breached.

The FAA was notified of the event at 15:17L on Jan 28th 2018 about 2 hours after landing.

The Aviation Herald learned of the occurrence on Jan 30th 2018 and inquired with the NTSB, the same day the NTSB stated in their first reply that they had not been informed about such an event.

On Feb 1st 2018 the FAA sent following statement: "Spirit Airlines 517, an Airbus A320, landed safely at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at about 1:15 pm on January 28 after declaring an emergency and reporting fumes in the aircraft. The FAA is investigating." The FAA did not answer the question by the AVH, why the NTSB had not been informed about the occurrence and learned of the occurrence through the inquiry by the AVH only.

On Feb 1st 2018 the NTSB indicated that (in response to the inquiry by AVH two days earlier) they are collecting information to rate the occurrence and decide whether an investigation will be opened.

On Feb 8th 2018 the NTSB told The Aviation Herald: "Code of Federal Regulations 830.5 requires that NTSB be notified when a required crewmember (flight or cabin) cannot complete their official duties. NTSB investigators contacted Spirit Airlines and were briefed on the circumstances that occurred on the Jan. 28 flight. All crewmembers completed their official duties throughout the flight. Several flight attendants were transported to the hospital but none were admitted. The pilots did not go to the hospital. No further investigation is planned."

The airline has been invited for comment but has not followed up so far.

On Feb 10th 2018 the FAA reported the APU had been "overserviced", its oil tank's capacity was exceeded, the surplus of oil may have passed through the seals and into the air conditioning system creating the fume event.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground in Fort Lauderdale for about 9 hours, then positioned to Orlando,FL, remained on the ground in Orlando for 19 hours, then returned to service.
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 28, 2018


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320-200N

ICAO Type Designator

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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