Accident Airbus A330-343X G-VSXY, Monday 16 April 2012
ASN logo
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Monday 16 April 2012
Time:11:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic A333 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Airbus A330-343X
Owner/operator:Virgin Atlantic Airways
Registration: G-VSXY
MSN: 1195
Year of manufacture:2011
Engine model:Rolls-Royce Trent 772-B60
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 317
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Minor
Location:London-Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK) -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:London Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK)
Destination airport:Orlando, Florida (ORD/KORD)
Investigating agency: AAIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A330-300, G-VSXY, was involved in an emergency landing at London-Gatwick Airport (LGW), U.K. Virgin flight VS027 departed LGW on a scheduled flight to Orlando, FL (MCO). It was climbing through an altitude of about FL220 when the crew decided to return to LGW. The emergency return was initiated because of a report of smoke in the cabin. The airplane was evacuated on the runway. First report of the cause of the incident reports technical problem caused a spurious fire warning. There was no fire & no smoke on board.

According to the summary if the incident from the AAIB:

"The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was notified of this occurrence by Virgin Atlantic Airways shortly after it happened and the investigation was started the same day.

The occurrence was initially classified by the AAIB as a Serious Incident. However, when it became clear that two passengers had incurred injuries defined as Serious, the occurrence was reclassified as an Accident, in accordance with ICAO Annex 13 and the United Kingdom’s ‘Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996’. This classification as an Accident does not reflect the state of the aircraft, which sustained only very minor damage, during the evacuation.

In accordance with established international arrangements, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) in France, representing the State of Design and Manufacture of the aircraft, appointed an Accredited Representative and was supported by a team which included advisors from Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, and Siemens, systems manufacturer. The aircraft operator has co-operated with the investigation and provided expertise as required. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have been kept informed of developments.

The aircraft was operating a flight from London Gatwick Airport to McCoy International Airport in Orlando, USA with three flight crew, 10 cabin crew and 304 passengers on board including three infants. Early in the flight the crew received a series of smoke warnings from the aft cargo hold and the commander elected to return to London Gatwick. The crew carried out the appropriate emergency drills, including the discharge of the fire extinguishers in the aft cargo hold, but the smoke warnings continued. The aircraft landed safely, the crew brought it to a halt on the runway and endeavoured to establish the extent of any fire. This produced conflicting evidence and, with smoke warnings continuing, the commander ordered an emergency evacuation.

The passengers all left the aircraft within 90 seconds but two injuries, classed as ‘Serious’, were incurred. Subsequent examination of the aircraft and its systems showed that the smoke warnings had been spurious.

The investigation identified that injuries were sustained during the evacuation of the aircraft. The evacuation was initiated based on the commander’s assessment of the available sources of information, including the repetitive and intermittent nature of the aft cargo smoke warnings.

The investigation identified the following causal factor for the intermittent cargo smoke warnings:

A latent fault on the T1 thermistor channel of smoke detector 10WH, in combination with a CAN Bus fault and possible high levels of humidity in the cargo compartment due to the carriage of perishable goods, provided circumstances sufficient to generate multiple spurious aft cargo compartment smoke warnings.

The investigation identified the following contributory factors for the intermittent cargo smoke warnings:

The thermal channel fault in 10WH was not detected prior to the event by the internal smoke detector temperature monitoring.

The proximity of the fire extinguisher nozzles to the smoke detectors".

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. AAIB:
2. CAA:

Revision history:

16-Apr-2012 06:54 saf7670 Added
16-Apr-2012 07:02 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
16-Apr-2012 07:15 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
16-Apr-2012 09:06 krasatpi Updated [Time, Total occupants]
21-Apr-2012 12:46 sharla Updated [Source, Narrative]
10-Sep-2012 16:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code, Narrative]
13-Sep-2015 10:13 Dr. John Smith Updated [Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
25-Dec-2016 00:27 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
06-Aug-2020 13:59 harro Updated [Source, Accident report, ]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314