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News release

A fluid contaminant spill on electronic components led to May 2016 in-flight avionics compartment fire

Richmond Hill, Ontario, 11 September 2017 – In the release of its investigation report (A16O0066) today into a May 2016 in-flight avionics compartment fire, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found that a fluid contaminant caused the fire that disabled electrical power distribution to several systems of the aircraft.

On 25 May 2016, an Air Canada Embraer ERJ 190-100 was operating as flight ACA361 from Boston/General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport, Massachusetts, to Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario. While en route, warning lights illuminated and associated alarms sounded, alerting the crew that the aircraft was in an electrical emergency condition, and that the main sources of electrical power were offline. The flight crew followed the electrical emergency checklist and after a period of ten minutes, most electrical systems were restored. With main power restored, the aircraft continued to destination and landed uneventfully. No emergency was declared, and no injuries were reported. Air Canada maintenance personnel inspected the aircraft following arrival and noticed extensive fire and smoke damage to the right integrated control center.

The investigation determined that a fluid contaminant had come into contact with the integrated control center and caused arcing, which led to the fire. The fire eventually disabled the main electrical system. As a result of the electrical failure, the smoke detector in the recirculation bay remained unpowered during the period of time when smoke was likely detectable. Due to the lack of smoke or fire warning, the flight crew was unaware of the severity of the situation when it elected to continue to destination. If flight crews are not fully aware of the severity of an emergency situation and exercise their discretion not to land at the nearest suitable airport, then there is an increased risk that a flight may be continued to destination when safer options exist.

Following this occurrence, the manufacturer has proposed changes to its electrical emergency procedure and checklist.

See the investigation page for more information.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376