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Fuel system deficiency caused belt loader fire and Boeing 767 evacuation at Montréal Airport
5 February 2015
Position of the aircraft and wind direction (Source: Google Earth, with TSB annotations)

Position of the aircraft and wind direction (Source: Google Earth, with TSB annotations)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its investigation report into the belt loader fire involving a Boeing 767 operated by Royal Air Maroc at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Canada in November 2013. The fire led to smoke in the cabin and the evacuation of passengers.

On 4 November 2013, the Royal Air Maroc Boeing 767 carrying 243 passengers and 8 crew members parked at gate 61 after landing at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. During deplaning at 16:45, a fire broke out under a belt loader that was positioned under the left rear cargo door. The smell of smoke created by the fire penetrated the cabin, prompting the captain to order the evacuation of the aircraft. Some passengers evacuated the aircraft through the jetway while others used the evacuation slides. Seven passengers suffered minor injuries. The airport firefighting service arrived on site at 16:49 and brought the fire under control. The aircraft sustained no damage.

The investigation found that a connector in the fuel system on the belt loader disconnected while the engine was running. Consequently, fuel sprayed onto the hot surface of the exhaust and caused a fire.

In the weeks following the occurrence, all of the service provider’s belt loaders at airports across Canada had their fuel systems inspected for connectors, and they installed an emergency switch on belt loaders that did not already have one. They also shared their observations with other service providers concerning the risks associated with the vulnerability of the fuel system for this engine model on ground handling equipment. Aéroports de Montréal has incorporated service providers such as ground handlers into their safety management system, and its firefighting service now offers training to employees working on the apron.

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