Report: Los Angeles-bound Singapore Airlines 777 Smoke in Cabin

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 with wheels down.
Photo Credit: RHL Images from England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) has released its final report into an incident involving a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300 operating from Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles on 27 March 2023.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300, registration 9V-SWQ, was on descent into Los Angeles. During the descent, a passenger reported smoke was emanating from an inflight entertainment panel. 

Singapore Airlines SQ12 Tokyo-Los Angeles

The cabin crew immediately switched off the seat power supply to the affected IFE panel. A crewmember then discharged two fire extinguishers at the IFE panel until no further smoke was seen.

A cabin crew member was stationed at the affected seat to monitor the IFE panel. When the aircraft had just touched down on the runway, smoke and fire were seen again at the IFE panel.

The cabin crew member stationed at the seat discharged another fire extinguisher. The aircraft exited the runway normally and taxied to the parking bay without further incident.

Flight History

On the evening of 27 March 2023, flight SQ12 was inbound to Los Angeles International Airport. The Boeing B777-300ER aircraft was enroute from Narita International Airport and scheduled to land in Los Angeles at 1250 hrs.

During descent to Los Angeles, a passenger from Seat 48K reported to the Leading Steward (LS). The passenger seated at Door 4L advised that the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) panel was emitting smoke.

The LS went over to Seat 48K and saw that smoke was emitting from the USB port of the IFE multiport jack1 (MPJ).

Another Flight Steward (FS) who was present then proceeded to switch off the seat power module (SPM) to turn off the power supply.

The LS then requested the FS to fetch the fire extinguishers. Meanwhile, the LS called the In-Flight Manager (IFM) via cabin intercom to inform him of the developing situation.

Smoke was first observed to be emitting from the IFE panel followed by sparks appearing. The FS discharged one bottle of fire extinguisher at the smoking IFE panel. As a precautionary measure, he also discharged the second bottle at the IFE panel.

The affected passengers were relocated to other seats. The FS sat at seat row 48 with a third fire extinguisher on hand and monitored the situation during the landing.

When the aircraft had just touched down on the runway, the FS saw smoke and electrical sparks coming from the IFE panel at the back of Seat 47K. There was smoke coming from the bottom of the seat as well.

The FS immediately discharged the third fire extinguisher. As a result, there was no further smoke or fire observed. The aircraft rolled out of the runway and taxied to the parking bay without further incident.

Fault Identification

According to the operator, four days before the 27 March incident, there was smoke and burning smell emitting from the MPJ panel located underneath seat 41K of the same aircraft.

Following the incident on 27 March 2023, the aircraft operator carried out a more in-depth investigation of the IFE electrical system.  

The operator found previously undetected damage to the wires and cable insulation on the folding arm-type IFE display panel at Seat 41H. The wires were found with damaged insulation and exposed bare wire.

The IFE manufacturer also examined the damaged MPJ circuit of the IFE unit from the 27 March 2023 incident and found signs of liquid ingression.

The TSIB concluded that the incident was the result of two factors. The IFE smoke was the result of an overvoltage condition and heating within the IFE unit.  This originated from a combined fault of damaged cable harness and liquid intrusion.

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The TSIB released its final report into an incident involving an IFE panel fire on a Singapore Airlines flight inbound to Los Angeles from Tokyo on 27 March 2023.
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