Heater Cause Of In-Flight Airbus A330 Cockpit Fire?

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A loud bang and a bright flash of white flame greeted the pilots of a Jetstar Airbus A330-200 carrying 203 passengers and crew out of Osaka, Japan, for the Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday as it passed four hours en route 37,000 feet over the Pacific. The cockpit crew donned masks as fumes and smoke filled the flight deck and flames rose near the base of the co-pilot's windscreen. Aside from pilot and co-pilot, two trainees were in the cockpit, one of whom passed forward a fire extinguisher that the co-pilot used to douse the flames. After an estimated 50 seconds the fire appeared to be out and the aircraft was about 20 minutes from Guam, where the crew put down safely after a relatively normal descent. Jetstar cited an electrical connection in a windscreen heater element as the fire's apparent ignition point, according to The Australian, but the Australian Safety Bureau has yet to determine the cause. According to a spokesman for Jetstar, "This is quite a new aircraft, well maintained and the part was factory fitted." Captain Ray Banfield told passengers upon landing, "Never in all my years of flying commercial aircraft had I seen anything like it," according to The Daily Telegraph.

Many passengers aboard the two-year-old jet were not immediately aware of the nature of the descent as the pilots could not make announcements through their masks. Some passengers, however, could smell smoke. Upon landing, the aircraft was met with fire trucks and sat for several minutes before proceeding to the terminal. The seemingly freak incident has brought more attention to the Airbus A330-200 as it is the same model as the Air France jet that was lost off the coast of Brazil early this month.