Hot under the hood

1961
The smoke hood involved in the incident

Service Difficulty Report – 510019053

Component: Personal breathing equipment (PBE)

Problem: Faulty oxygen generator

Possible consequence: Fire injury

An old (but not yet time-expired) PBE smoke hood was removed from an aircraft for use in training. When the PBE was activated there was what appeared to be a small explosion, followed by a flash fire inside the hood. The person who activated the hood suffered minor burns. Luckily, this unit was being used for a demonstration and not in an emergency. Also fortunately, the user was not wearing perfume, hair gel or hair spray that could have caused a more intense fire.

It was noted that although the bag seemed secure, it might not have been totally vacuum-sealed.

In 2011, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued AD 2011-01-09, which covered some potentially faulty PBE units, but the unit in question was outside the serial number range of this AD.

CASA, the FAA and the manufacturer are actively investigating this incident. Meanwhile, it serves to highlight two points:

  • Any oxygen-generating equipment has the potential to cause a fire and should be treated with the utmost respect.
  • It is easy to overlook emergency equipment during maintenance, but any flaw in this equipment could be disastrous when it is needed.
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