The Australian Transport Safety Board is investigating a latest incident on board a Qantas Airbus 330-200 en route to Manila from Sydney forcing the aircraft to make an emergency diversion to Cairns where it landed safely. The incident occurred during cruise when pilots noticed flames that had apparently ignited near the left hand windscreen. The pilots who were able to bring the small fire under control proceeded to divert the plane with its 147 passengers and 11 crew members on board to Cairns.
The suspicions regarding the electrical nature of the fire were confirmed by the Australian Transportation safety Board investigating the incident, which it characterized as a ‘arcing window heating circuit’. The aircraft involved in this latest incident was already at the center of an investigation not yet concluded by the ATSB. On February 23rd the aircraft began veering off the center of the runway during a take off run at Perth Aerodrome. Pilots were able to successfully initiate an aborted take off sequence. Also troubling on June 10th 2009 another A330-203 en route from Osaka to the Gold Coast, Queensland with 182 passengers and 13 crew on board was diverted to Guam where it landed safely after a fire in the cockpit had been noticed by pilots. Although ATSB report is still pending, an electrical malfunction of the right windshield heating system has been suspected. Finally on August 21st 2005 a Qantas 330-303 VH-QPE suffered a lower cargo fire while cruising from Tokyo to Perth. The aircraft with 181 passengers and 13 crews has to divert and land at Kansai international Airport. reports of smoke near the nose landing gear prompted the aircraft evacuation during which 8 passengers sustained minor injuries and 1 was seriously injured.
Qantas has recently began introducing the Airbus 330-200 into its long haul fleet typically configured with 36 business seats and 265 economy. VH-EBL, the aircraft involved in the incident is one of 8 Airbus 330-203 that have began operating with the airline in 2007. VH-EBL was delivered brand new in 2008. Aside from the 8 Airbus 330-203 , Qantas also operates 10 airbus 330-303 which are stretched versions of the A330-203, allowing a total of 18 aircraft of the A330 type in the fleet.