Pilots had to issue a mayday alert mid-air after an electrical fault known to the manufacturer caused the cockpit of a flight to fill with smoke, an investigation has found.
The easyJet plane had taken off from Edinburgh just 11 minutes prior, when smoke forced the pilots to put on their oxygen masks and call for help, on November 28 last year.
The aircraft had been carrying 177 passengers to Hamburg, Germany, and was forced to land in Newcastle.
A known fault
Manufacturer Airbus was aware of the fault and other incidents but had not issued a safety warning to carriers, according to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
Warnings about the issue are included as part of “information” provided to flight operators of the Airbus A320 but these are not highlighted as instructions by the manufacturer.
Low cost carrier easyJet says it does not routinely review information but does communicate “safety critical instructions” to its crews. It asserts that the defect should have been “classified as a safety issue” and marked as a high profile alert.
An easyJet spokeswoman said: “Safety critical instructions communicated to easyJet via Airbus are always reviewed and acted upon at the time of publication.
“We raised this as a concern with Airbus following the diversion.”
According to the AAIB, 10 similar incidents had been reported that easyJet had been unaware of.
The AAIB inquiry has also revealed that another “large UK operator” does not regularly review Airbus’s “information” format.
“The safety of its passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority and easyJet operates its fleet of aircraft in compliance with all manufacturers’ guidelines,” the spokeswoman added.
Date Published: October 5, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown