Qantas A332 near Broome on May 13th 2019, electrical fault

Last Update: June 19, 2020 / 17:53:11 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
May 13, 2019



Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator

A Qantas Airbus A330-200, registration VH-EBL performing flight QF-44 from Denpasar (Indonesia) to Sydney,NS (Australia), was enroute at FL380 about 190nm eastsoutheast of Broome,WA (Australia) when the crew decided to turn around and divert to Broome due to an electrical fault. The aircraft landed safely on Broome's runway 10 about 50 minutes later.

The airline confirmed an electrical fault prompted the diversion to Broome. The airline is working to re-accomodate the passengers on alternate flights.

The occurrence aircraft remained on the ground until May 17th 2019, then positioned to Brisbane,QL (Australia), where the aircraft spent another 3 days before returning to service on May 20th 2019.

On May 31st 2019 the ATSB reported the occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated. The autopilot disconnected and the crew was faced with multiple warning messages related to electrical systems. The crew completed the related checklists and diverted to Broome.

On Jun 19th 2020 the ATSB reported the investigation was discontinued reasoning:

- The flight crew, despite receiving unclear information from the monitoring systems, recognised that the aircraft’s systems were significantly degraded and appropriately managed the risks by diverting to the nearest suitable airport.

- The aircraft flight crew’s responses to the system failures during the diversion effectively managed the risks presented by the degraded aircraft systems.

- The approach and landing at the diversion airport was appropriately managed and uneventful.

- The operator and manufacturer’s combined investigations into the technical origins of the electrical systems event, while unable to conclusively identify root cause, did isolate the areas of likely contribution.

- Both manufacturer and aircraft operator have undertaken proactive safety action in response to the technical failure areas of concern.

- The operator has similarly assessed the operational and logistical issues arising from the use of Broome as a diversionary destination.

As such, the ATSB considered it was unlikely that further independent investigation would identify any systemic safety issues or important safety lessons.

The ATSB described the sequence of events:

On 14 May 2020 at about 0030 Western Standard Time, an Airbus A330-203 aircraft registered VH-EBL, was operating as Qantas flight QF044, a scheduled passenger service between Sydney, Australia and Denpasar, Indonesia. While in the cruise at flight level 390 and abeam the Royal Australian Air Force Curtin aerodrome near the West Australian coast, the first officer’s primary flight, navigation and multipurpose control displays lost power and went blank. Accompanying this, the autopilot disconnected, the cockpit Master Warning light illuminated with an aural alert and multiple electronic centralised aircraft monitor (ECAM) messages presented on the engine/warning display.

The flight crew assumed manual aircraft control and worked to complete the appropriate response checklists and to better understand the issue. At 0038, the crew made a PAN call to air traffic control (ATC) advising of the electrical problem and the possible need to divert. That decision was made at 0044 and the crew advised ATC that they would be diverting the aircraft to Broome – approximately 170 km from their position.

The flight crew reported that while some inoperative systems were restored during the diversion, other systems remained unavailable. All flight, navigation and multipurpose controls on the captain’s side of the flight deck remained functional throughout the flight. The approach to and landing on runway 10 at Broome was uneventful and the aircraft touched down at 0150.

The ATSB summarized the engineering findings:

In summary, based on information gathered during the investigation, it was found that the electrical systems event had originated within the aircraft’s number-two integrated drive generator (IDG) and generator control unit (GCU) systems. The event produced abnormal behaviours in related electrical systems which were not immediately or definitively indicative of an IDG or GCU fault – making the task of fault diagnosis difficult. Indeed, engineering staff examining the aircraft after arrival in Broome and following relocation under special authority to Brisbane, were unable to replicate the systems behaviour reported by the flight crew.
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Incident Facts

Date of incident
May 13, 2019



Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A330-200

ICAO Type Designator

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