Easyjet A319 at Isle of Man on Mar 31st 2017, smoke in cockpit
Last Update: April 12, 2018 / 14:50:08 GMT/Zulu time
The British AAIB rated the occurrence a serious incident and opened an investigation.
On Apr 12th 2018 the AAIB released their bulletin reporting the aircraft had been dispatched under minimum equipment list (MEL) requirements with the #1 air cycle machine (ACM) seized. In accordance with the MEL it was used in heat exchanger mode after takeoff. The AAIB stated it was probable that in this mode air flowing through the damaged ACM produced the smell and smoke/mist.
The AAIB wrote: "The commander stated that the co-pilot had selected Pack 1 on after reaching 1,000 ft aal and Pack 2 about 10 seconds later. The occurrence of the smoke was not soon enough after selecting the packs on for him to associate this as being a possible cause. The smoke visually dispersed after about 2 to 3 minutes but the acrid smell remained. He commented that his main concern was the possibility of receiving an avionics smoke message on the ECAM which would have resulted in needing to consider setting the emergency electrical configuration. This would have increased the landing distance required while the landing distance available at the Isle of Man was only 1,613 m. He said they had insufficient time to troubleshoot or consult the Quick Reference Handbook and he was surprised at how quickly the 11 minutes passed. It was only after landing that the flight crew discussed the faulty pack as being a possible cause."
The AAIB analysed:
In this event on G-EZIM, the smells and smoke/mist experienced by the flight crew and cabin crew occurred after Pack 1 was turned on, which was believed to contain a seized ACM. Turning the pack on in ‘heat exchanger mode’ results in air flowing through the ACM and it is possible that this airflow caused the ACM to turn, but due to a problem with the air bearings there was friction which generated heat and smells. This scenario does not explain why the symptoms did not occur on the earlier flight. However, the ACM in Pack 1 was found to be damaged and replacing it has resulted in no further occurrences of smells or smoke/mist, which increases the likelihood that the ACM was the cause.
The manufacturer’s manuals permit an air-conditioning pack to be operated in ‘heat exchanger mode’ when the ACM has seized. Operating a pack in ‘heat exchanger mode’ with an ACM in such a condition could result in the airflow being sufficient to turn what was considered to be a seized ACM. The friction from this operation could then produce undesirable smells and potential smoke/mist into the cabin and cockpit air systems. The aircraft operator is reviewing what action should be taken in the future when an ACM is determined to be seized.
This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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