Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Air India plane grounded at Sharjah after fire extinguisher system deploys twice, probe initiated

Mumbai: The fire extinguishing system of an Air India A321 aircraft parked at Sharjah airport went off when it was being readied for departure to Calicut last week. The commander in his report said that the co-pilot hit his head on the cockpit’s overhead panel where the cargo fire switch is located.
But aviation sources said that it was unlikely that a headbutt could activate the system. Air India has initiated an inquiry into the incident involving its flight AI998. “If there were loaders in the cargo hold, they would have been sprayed with the halon gas, in which case, they could have needed medical attention,” the source said. Inhalation of halon is known to cause lightheadedness, headache, coughing and elevated heartbeat in affected workers.
An Air India spokesperson said that the pilots took the aircraft on minimum equipment list without any cargo as cargo fire discharge indication came on in the cockpit when the aircraft was parked in Sharjah. He denied that the extinguisher system deployed in the cargo or that workers were affected.
However the report made by the commander (TOI has a copy) states a different story. According to the report, minutes after the co-pilot hit his head on the overhead panel, the aircraft maintenance engineer informed the captain that the cargo fire extinguishers had been discharged. It was then decided to fly the aircraft with an empty cargo hold. But an hour later, the extinguisher system deployed again and this time the engineers removed the cockpit voice recorder. The aircraft was subsequently grounded.
30/10/19 Times of India
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