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Cockpit fire forces Japan to Australia plane down

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 10, 2009) – An Australian low-cost airline says a plane that made an emergency landing in Guam after a cockpit fire is the same model as the Air France plane that crashed last week in the Atlantic.

The Jetstar airline's Airbus craft was four hours into a flight from Japan to Australia when a pilot noticed smoke and flames coming from a cockpit window.

The airline says a pilot extinguished the fire.

None of the more than 200 passengers and crew were injured.

Heating element

Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan says computer messages from the plane suggests the fire was caused by a failed heating element.

"We received an error message about the heating element in the window - the system that keeps the windows, effectively, like defrosted," the chief executive said.

He compared the element as something like that in "the rear window of a car".

"We received an error message about that prior to the smouldering and the smoke.

"It's a relatively new aircraft; the window is still factory-fitted.

Unique incident

"We've gone back to the manufacturers and as far as we are aware there are no other incidents like this being reported anywhere in the world."

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway says passengers and crew are in hotels in Guam and will be flown to Brisbane, Australia, on Friday.

Most passengers were Japanese, with a small number of Australians, the airline said.

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