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Weird smell in cabin makes Tigerair divert to Brisbane

June 22, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A Tigerair flight from Sydney to Cairns diverted to Brisbane yesterday after passengers became alarmed at a strange smell permeating the cabin.

Emergency services met flight TT680, operated with an Airbus A320, when it landed safely at Brisbane Domestic airport just after 2pm.

Three women were taken by ambulance to Royal Brisbane Hospital. Channel 9 News reported they were suffering headaches and dizziness.

Tigerair said the captain decided to divert as a precautionary measure in accordance with standard operating procedures.

“All passengers and crew are safely disembarking the aircraft at the gate,” the spokesperson told Channel 9.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members is always our highest priority.”

The incident is reminiscent of an earlier event involving another strong and unpleasant smell, described initially as like smoke but later said to resemble chemicals, that in March 2016 led Tigerair flight TT511 from Brisbane to make a priority landing at Melbourne Airport.

In the 2016 incident, crew aboard the Tigerair A320 reported a foul odour in the cabin.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) later investigated that incident. It may also do so this time.

Following the 2016 incident, the ATSB made the following observations:

On 1 March 2016, a Tiger Airways Airbus A320 aircraft, registered VH-VNO, departed Brisbane, Queensland, on a scheduled passenger service to Melbourne, Victoria. On board were the captain, the first officer, four cabin crew members, and 63 passengers.

At about 0900 Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDT), when the aircraft was abeam Parkes, New South Wales, the cabin crew detected a strong odour in the rear of the cabin, and notified the captain. The cabin crew were unsure what the smell was, but they later described it as being like that of an extinguished cigarette.

At 0933, the aircraft was about 211 km north of Melbourne, when the cabin crew manager advised that three cabin crew members were feeling unwell, and that one had vomited.

The flight crew contacted air traffic control, declared a PAN, and requested direct tracking to Melbourne. The captain advised the passengers that fire vehicles and ambulance would be present for their arrival at Melbourne Airport. 

After landing, the aircraft taxied to the bay, followed by the airport rescue and firefighting service. After shutting the engines down, the captain advised the fire commander that other than sick members of the cabin crew, everything was normal. The fire crew did not find any source of fumes or fire, nor did a subsequent engineering inspection reveal the source.

This incident demonstrates effective crew resource management techniques to deal with an abnormal and evolving situation.

Written by Peter Needham

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