Irish air accident investigators released a preliminary report regarding an incident involving a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 en route from Heathrow to Chicago in January 2009.
A small fire broke out in the bottom of the waste bin storage compartment of the bar unit in the First Class area. The fire was located in a hole in the floor of the compartment. The crew noted that a damaged electric cable loom appeared to emanate from this hole. Arcing was observed in the hole. Crew members used fire extinguishers but they could not put the blaze out. An emergency landing was carried out at Shannon.
The Investigation found that the cable loom in the bottom of the waste bin compartment had been completely severed and bore strong evidence of burning/arcing. The loom in question consists of ten wires in a protective sheath, six wires carrying 28 V DC and the other four carrying 115 V AC. This wiring provided power and dimming circuits for “mood” lighting which is recessed into the bar unit counter-top. Initial indication was that the lower edge of the metal waste bin made contact with the wiring loom. Information from drawings provided by the Operator indicated that two runners should be installed in the bottom of the compartment to keep the bin above the wiring loom, thereby avoiding contact. Furthermore, a protective metal cover should be installed over the loom in the bottom of the compartment. No evidence of the presence of the loom cover or rails was found. Initial inspection indicated the possibility that they were never fitted.
A fleet inspection of the Operator’s A340-300 and A340-600 (which have a similar bar unit fitted but a different part number) aircraft found that a number of these aircraft also had problems relating to missing covers, rail screws and cable routing in this area. Damage to the loom was found on one other aircraft.