What’s With The Smoking Airbus?

So I saw a bit of news about some Airbus that had to make an emergency landing due to smoke, and thought I’d check up on the story…

A quick Web Search and… WT? Dozens of such stories…

Leading me to wonder: We’ve had several Airbus planes go down from presumed “terrorist actions”, but mostly just because their was evidence of a fire or similar on board. Yet there’s a lot more in this list. So what’s with the Smoking Airbus? Is there, perhaps, some bigger design problem?

Jet Blue A320 Fire Indication and Smoke in Cabin – Cockpit …
Jet Blue A320 Fire Indication and Smoke in Cabin … After the aircraft came to a stop the crew advised the tower they were initiating an evacuation asking …
[Search domain http://www.cockpitchatter.com] cockpitchatter.com/jet-blue-a320-fire-indication-and-smoke-i…

US Airways plane in Denver evacuated after smoke filled cabin
US Airways plane in Denver evacuated after smoke filled cabin Share this: … The plane, an Airbus A321, was being operated by American Airlines.
[Search domain http://www.denverpost.com] denverpost.com/2015/03/04/us-airways-plane-in-denver-eva…

JetBlue flight returns to Calif. after smoke fills cabin
JetBlue flight returns to Calif. after smoke fills cabin. A JetBlue airliner returned Thursday to the airport in Long Beach, Calif., after one of two …
[Search domain http://www.usatoday.com] usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/19/jet-blue-fli…

Cabin Smoke, Fire, Fumes, or Odor Incidents – Aviation Safety
Cabin Smoke, Fire, Fumes, or Odor Incidents . … (Astra Galaxy) aircraft. The APU door was open, but the APU was not running. No Fire Warning in cockpit.
[Search domain asrs.arc.nasa.gov] asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/rpsts/cabin_fumes.pdf

AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic β€” Civil Aviation …
AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic : USER … A common cause of smoke in the cabin used to be the crews stowing personal items and handbags etc in the ovens …
[Search domain http://www.airliners.net] airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.mai…

Cockpit / Cabin Smoke Procedures
Cockpit / Cabin Smoke Procedures Operational Liaison Meeting – Fly-By-Wire Aircraft 2004 CustomerServices
[Search domain http://www.smartcockpit.com] smartcockpit.com/download.php?path=docs/&file=Cockpit_and_…

Easyjet Airbus A319 Smoke in cabin before the take off – YouTube
Easyjet Airbus A319 Smoke in cabin before the take off … Smoke in the Cabin – Emergency Evacuation Drill – Duration: 2:57. JustPlanes 28,291 views.
[Search domain http://www.youtube.com] youtube.com/watch?v=s-Bgqx1HpWI

Flight Operations Briefing Notes Cabin Operations – Airbus
Flight Operations Briefing Notes Cabin … onboard aircraft. It is important for the cabin crew to … After any fire or smoke occurrence, one cabin crewmember …
[Search domain http://www.airbus.com] airbus.com/fileadmin/media_gallery/files/safety_libr…

Smoke forces Qatar Airways plane to make emergency landing in …
The plane was bound for London, but turned around 10 minutes into its journey yesterday, after smoke was detected in the cabin.
[Search domain dohanews.co] dohanews.co/passengers-distressed-smoke-forces-turn-b…

Smoke Procedure Finalization – dream-air.ru
Smoke Procedure Finalization Presented by Xavier VILLAIN … Review of the Airbus Smoke Procedure Crew (cockpit or cabin) perception without ECAM Warning SMOKE /
[Search domain http://www.dream-air.ru] dream-air.ru/new/pilotam/20_smoke.pdf

AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic – Airliners.net
AF Airbus 388 Smoke In Cabin Over Atlantic #7190187. By Gonzalo – Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:04 am – Fri Jan 20, … This is a HUGE factor! Smoke in a cabin, …
[Search domain http://www.airliners.net] airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=532243

France: Smoke detected on EgyptAir flight before crash
France: Smoke detected on EgyptAir flight … with 66 people aboard had transmitted automatic messages indicating smoke in the cabin. … Airbus 320, from Paris to …
[Search domain http://www.aljazeera.com] aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/egyptair-crash-smoke-detecte…

Plane Smoke Causes Dramatic Landing – ABC News
An American Eagle flight bound for Chicago was diverted first because of bad weather, but as the plane was about to land smoke began to fill the cabin, causing …
[Search domain abcnews.go.com] abcnews.go.com/US/smoke-plane-dramatic-emergency-landing…

Delta flight diverted after smoke fills cabin – CNN.com
(CNN)A Delta flight was diverted to a South Carolina airport on Thursday after the crew reported an engine problem and smoke filled the cabin.
[Search domain http://www.cnn.com] cnn.com/2015/05/07/travel/delta-flight-diverted/i…

Smoke In Cabin Forces Heathrow Flight Evacuation
Smoke In Cabin Forces Heathrow Flight Evacuation. Footage shows several passengers, including children, sliding from the American Airlines plane to the …
[Search domain news.sky.com] news.sky.com/story/1717870/smoke-in-cabin-forces-heath…

Smoke removal A320 – PPRuNe Forums
Qrh 1.06 (Smoke removal) then 1.09A According to Airbus you do not any longer do Elec sheding, … vital for information about a smoke source in the cabin.
[Search domain http://www.pprune.org] pprune.org/tech-log/334808-smoke-removal-a320.html

What is the white smoke that planes blow into the cabins? – Quora
What is the white smoke that planes blow into the cabins? I often see white smoke blowing into aircraft cabins. Update Cancel. Answer Wiki. 5 Answers. John Fiscus, …
[Search domain http://www.quora.com] quora.com/What-is-the-white-smoke-that-planes-blow-…

EgyptAir crash: ‘Smoke detected inside the aircraft cabin’ as …
EgyptAir crash: Flight data points … ‘Smoke detected inside the aircraft cabin’ Experts say flight data ‘seems to point towards a bomb’ First body parts returned to …
[Search domain http://www.telegraph.co.uk] telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/21/egyptair-crash—smoke-de…

Aircraft Crew Smoke Hood – Breathing Apparatus | SkyArt …
Aircraft Cockpit Smoke Hood. Aircraft Cockpit Smoke Hood is taken from an Airbus 300 Aircraft and it is a piece of aviation history. The smoke hood, also known as pbe …
[Search domain http://www.skyart.com] skyart.com/sold-out/aircraft-crew-smoke-hood/

Delta Airlines flight cabin fills with smoke on … – Mail Online
Just what you don’t want to see on a plane: Aircraft fills with smoke just after takeoff and horrified passengers look on helpless. Cabin of a Delta …
[Search domain http://www.dailymail.co.uk] dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2349254/Delta-Airlines-fligh…

Emergency Evacuation on Land – SKYbrary Aviation Safety
Emergency Evacuation on Land. … (On 6 January 2011 an Easyjet Airbus A319 experienced the sudden onset of thick “smoke” in the cabin as the aircraft cleared the …
[Search domain http://www.skybrary.aero] skybrary.aero/index.php/Emergency_Evacuation_on_Land

Passenger wearing oxygen mask films … – Daily Mail Online
A video filmed by a passenger wearing an oxygen mask shows the dramatic scene inside an aircraft after one of its engines malfunctioned and filled the cabin with smoke.
[Search domain http://www.dailymail.co.uk] dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762278/Passenger-wearing-ox…

Japan Airlines Jet Evacuated After Engine Trouble, Cabin …
Soon after, smoke and an odor were detected inside the cabin, prompting the crew to evacuate the aircraft. Firefighters said they did not have to extinguish any …

[Search domain http://www.nbcnews.com] nbcnews.com/business/travel/japan-airlines-jet-evacua…
Flight from Fort Lauderdale diverted to South Carolina after …
Flight from Fort Lauderdale diverted to Charleston after reports of smoke in plane’s cabin


Delta Flight From Florida Diverted After Smoke Fills Cabin …
Smoke filled the cabin of a Delta Air Lines that had departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today, causing the plane to be diverted to Charleston, South …
[Search domain abcnews.go.com] abcnews.go.com/US/delta-flight-florida-diverted-smoke-fi…

I’m way too over-committed at the moment to follow it up, but it sure looks odd.

I did follow up reading one of the “Pilot / Procedure” blogs and there was a discussion of confusion over the procedure published to clear smoke. (Seems that an indented line could have you skip the bit where you put the APU breakers on, not to run the aux power, but to connect the batteries to a vent valve..). But that would only explain a tendency to not clear smoke fast; not why it is there in the first place.

Maybe I’m just not familiar with how often airplanes go “up” then “smoke” (as opposed to “up in smoke”…) but I’d expect even 2 or 3 to cause all sorts of alarms to go off at the FAA. That list, BTW, goes on for more pages…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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25 Responses to What’s With The Smoking Airbus?

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    With the hundreds of miles of wiring in planes a problem with a wire loom rubbing something and then shorting is not at all unreasonable to expect with that sort of history. There are other cases of aircraft that had similar issues due to the long term exposure to vibration and flexing in the structure. It would be interesting to search service recommendations to see if there is a “non-mandatory” recommendation for a fix already in place which might take time to get implemented on all aircraft if it is only done at major overhauls.

    There have been other maint recommendations that ended up leading to accidents because they were not rolled out fast enough with high enough priority.

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    This report implies it is an ongoing issue FAA and aircraft operators are watching and investigating.


  3. John F. Hultquist says:

    Boeing and Bombardier planes are reported to smoke too.
    I had a ’57 Ford convertible that had holes in the floor. Got smoke through them too.

    I’d suggest a big spreadsheet to see if any particular thing is more of a problem than others.
    Big planes carry lots of people with fancy phones and thus make headlines.
    A rancher driving a Ford 150, 250, 350 isn’t likely to make national news with smoke. A friend’s truck burned (pulling a horse trailer up a Forest Service road) and it didn’t make the local paper.

    When Boeing sends 737 fuselages (partially constructed) by rail from the mid-west to Puget Sound the company has to inspect and fix bullet and arrow holes. Maybe they missed a few. It seems a more common problem than this:

  4. Bob Smith says:

    I’ve followed cold fusion, LENR, for years and when lithium batteries started showing up in news stories about airplane fires, thought there might be a connection.
    The stories don’t seem to find correlations in MSM, but with so many LENR researchers and varying demonstrations of runaway energy, there does seem to be a lot of smoke ;-).

  5. tom0mason says:

    Using my smear-o-vision refurbished sight, and looking through a lot of aircraft incident reports does not show much of a pattern.
    Trying to pick two planes of similar ages / production numbers / flight hours and routes to compare were fraught. I couldn’t find an exact match so settled on Airbus A-320 verses Boeing-737.
    Looking at Airline Incidents for aircraft type Airbus A-320 have fumes/fire in the cockpit and hydraulics problem , and Airline Incidents for aircraft type Boeing 737-800 show Boeing seem to have issues with fumes/fire and flaps recently. Overall there are about 100 more incidents reported for Airbus over the approximately 4 year period. Like most modern designs these planes have many failures due to electrical problems, but when considering how much wiring is in these aircraft it is amazing how safe they are.
    This report from the Australian CASA shows in Figure 25: Fumes/smoke ASIRs associated with aircraft system issues, 2008 to 2012, that electrical fails is the major cause of fume/smoke incidents.
    Figure 18., shows Fumes/smoke reporting to ATSB (ASIRs) and CASA (SDRs) by aircraft type, 2008 to 2012, per 100,000 hours flown. Aircraft type BAe 146 showing the most reports.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    The thing that strikes me about “smoke” of indeterminate origin. Is that at some concentration it becomes subject to flash-over or explosion. Smoke that is the combustible and not the direct product of combustion. A small lube oil leak in the cabin pressure compressor area, The oily surface boils the oil film off as it heats up and the cabin turns smokey for a bit and then clears. No evidence left in the compressor bay until things cools down and the seals seep again. A little too great a concentration of smoke gets into the electrical/communications bay and a hot relay sparks a flash-over! FIRE! too late…pg

  7. Gail Combs says:

    Given the crap the last company I worked for pulled with aircraft turbine blades, my wild a$$ guess would be ISO 9000 NON-quality control….

    I keep remembering the QC engineer out of TX who decided to Instron tensile test incoming bolts with 5 hash marks and finding they were pot metal. Seems the Chinese found putting on the marks meant they could get a higher price and with the introduction of ISO 9000 incoming inspection had been abandoned. The bolts were used to hold aircraft wings together.

    You can thank that nameless QC engineer for going against orders and saving the lives of thousands.

    Needless to say I do not fly anymore.

  8. Steve C says:

    That’s quite a list, even if only partial. I’d had for some time a subliminal awareness that I was hearing the word “Airbus” rather too often in the news, but never checked it out. It looks like I was right.

    Having said which, British Airways appear to be trying out an interesting new way of making their passengers forget there ever was some sort of problem, by weakening their short term memories. Flyin’ High, indeed.

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    Counterfeit bolts have been a problem for quite a long time, several industries have found them to be an issue. High performance cars (racing), heavy equipment, aerospace. Many in the racing community will only buy bolts in sealed boxes directly from a reputable vendor like ARP. Buying random lots from some mail order outlet is almost a guarantee that you will get crap 50% of the time.

  10. Gail Combs says:


    I used bolts as an easy (and true) illustration but the whole idea that you ‘trust your vendor’ because you vetted him 10 years ago and continue to do so WITHOUT SPOT CHECKS, is just asking for trouble. This is especially true when the words honour and integrity are ground into the dirt by the left and the globalists.
    Speaking of honour, one of the speakers last night had worked with Donald Trump for years. He mentioned that starting out he had worked for a company who owned a building right out side Donald’s office window. Donald wanted to buy and renovate it. Of course the deal included tons of lawyers and negotiators and dragged on forever. Finally Donald told the guy he would meet the asking price in exchange for that guy telling him EVERYTHING that was wrong with the building. The guy was floored when Donald told him, forget the lawyers I want your handshake on it.

    When I find the video of that speech I will post it. (I just wish I knew the guys name)

  11. Another Ian says:


    QANTAS is still using Airbus aircraft

  12. Another Ian says:


    Sent an email re above

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    while working in Name Big semiconductor manufacturing company, we made highly special versions for the military. Die had to meet tighter electrical specs and take a much longer “burn in” to catch infant mortality failures. Then there was the SEM Scanning Electron Microscope inspection of the chip surface. All taking a lot of time.

    When orders were to be shipped, but not finished wth “mil spec testing”, management would often push them through a different WIP Work In Progress process… the “pencil WIP”… just sign off the paperwork…

    My roomie was fired by them for failure to do just that… had a hard time getting his next job until The News filled up with a Fed Investigation busting the company… then his story was a feature …

    Lucky for me, I had few mil parts and rarely missed build rates. Only once was I told something needed to be “pencil wipped”… and when I asked “isn’t that wrong?” (just after my naive “what is that? “), was told “Don’t worry, you don’t need to sign it off, just pick up the paperwork from the test lab manager”. It was a couple of weeks later the roomie was fired, about 3? months to the Feds, and I quit about 9 mos later.

    Any company that doesn’t at least spot check that parts meet spec is playing the fool.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Right Gail those users now buy directly from the original vendor in same lot batches and the run checks on random samples out of that batch. They found that even the original vendors were getting burned because they were getting bogus materials supplied to them.

    You could buy 10,000 pounds of steel rod to make high test bolts from and buried in the pile have a thousand pounds of out of spec steel that is likely to get missed in acceptance testing of the batch, but close enough to the design material that no one would notice until something important fell off a piece of construction equipment or a race car. That is one of the lessons learned by companies that outsourced to China, they had to keep their suppliers in China on a very short leash and have constant monitoring for QC of the production.

    One area where China has killed our manufacturing is in small foundry work. It is a dirty business and cities who want “clean industry” and folks like the EPA make life miserable for foundry operations. So they moved to china for things like crank shafts, intake manifolds and other small casting projects, especially small lot custom production. Those Chinese crankshafts were much cheaper than US production crankshafts and most of the lasted long enough that not too much bad press showed up at first but, for folks squeezing over 1000 hp out of their engines originally designed to make 300 hp, those crankshafts did not live long and failed spectacularly. But by the time it was common knowledge that some of those Chinese sourced budget crankshafts were not up to the quality of the former American made equivalents, the small foundry operations in the US has almost all shut down.

    If you come up with a custom one off casting design which you want to have a couple prototype castings poured it is almost impossible to have them cast in the US.

    So what happens in 20 years when all the experienced casting talent in the US has died or is too old to do that sort of work? If we try to bring small lot casting back to the US we would have to spend a decade relearning tricks of the trade and building experience again. Like merchant shipping construction it is an industry only barely retaining a core cadre of experienced people in the US.

    That is one of the reasons why the defense department tends to “rotate” contracts to a couple key vendors in those specialty construction classes, like shipping, and aircraft. By spreading the business around a bit you keep 2 or 3 companies alive rather than only having a single home grown supplier. Even then you have places like Electric Boat and Newport News which build our submarines is a good example of trying to keep an industrial base and future expansion capacity in place.
    This 2005 article discusses the challenges involved.

    Large ocean going merchant shipping is now almost all built in Asia now.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Why my library has that old How To book on foundry and casting operations… to preserve at least the basics of the art…

    That materials swapping is the biggest problem to catch. Anywhere in the materials chain someone can get a ‘cut’ by slipping in a batch from his ‘cousin’. One toy company got hit with sporadic lead paint in generally good shipments. You end up needing to test the whole supply chain from dirt to product to catch the perps.

    Why I buy no food labled made in China (much frozen fish at Walmart now from China, and growing canned goods). You have no idea what is in it. From “olive oil” that never saw an olive to fancy basalmic vinegar made from industrial chemicals, enough cases have been caught to show the trend. Something like 1/3 of honey being fake…

    Even reputable name western companies have been burned and then had to take on expensive QA and monitoring, just to stay at expected levels.

    it is a huge problem.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    I think I mentioned before the employer who ordered thousands of custom USB sticks for a major marketing promo. Found about 10% with a hidden virus built in. We did an emergency screen to sort out the bad ones so the promo could proceed as planned.

    Were I in charge, I’d have removed them all from the gift packs, sent a letter denying any payment and a copy of the lawsuit seeking full damages to the vendor, held a press conference demonstrating the issue, with names, and a public RFP for future business explicitly stating all future product would be subject to the same “acceptance methods”…

    If you do not cause a loss of face and economic pain, their culture says it is OK to keep doing it. IFF publicly caught and ruined, the rate of abuse drops… until the next one is caught…

    Oh Well… TPTB paid high USA labor rates to sort the infected ones, then handled it in private. IMHO, exactly wrong. But they get the 6 and 7 figure salaries, not me…

    but never ever use cheap or free mystery meat usb sticks…

  17. Gail Combs says:

    Speaking of small foundries, my favorite MAST (harness and tack findings) was put out of business by the EPA and that really hurts. Their product was very good and I never had anything fail. Since then I purchased some horse proof stainless steel snaps from Weaver at 10/a piece. The D@…m things fell apart, jammed and were a roil pain. I bought ten and was out of pocket $100 bucks. When I complained to weaver they just shrugged and said they let the customer do the QC.

    I also ran into the problem with braided rope. Lehigh Cordage will LABEL a braided rope Nylon or Polyester but the rope core is crap recycled garbage. It is not even straight cotton. When you go to melt the ends to prevent unraveling it burns instead of melting and stinks to high heavens. ( I have a ‘calibrated nose’ and can ID polyester, nylon, PVC and polypropylene/ethylene by the smell of the melted plastic. Not IR spectra needed.)

    I certainly agree with EM Smith about food from China — NO WAY they have resistant super bugs in their sewage and they use that sewage as fertilizer.

    Romney and others were saying that Trump wanting to bring manufacturing back to the USA would drive up costs for the consumer but the skuttlebutt I have heard is people are really fed up with poor quality and rather pay a bit more for something that actually works and lasts.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    Every talking head tells us how great International Trade is for merchants and consumers because of lower prices for goods made in other countries.
    BUT! none can tell us how consumers can afford to by those goods without the income from jobs that have been shipped out to those cheap labor countries.
    There are only 3 ways to CREATE new wealth. Farming, Mining and Manufacturing.
    Bankers, Bureaucrats and Merchants only handle wealth as it moves from the creators to the consumers. They acquire wealth by taking their cut from the transaction. They do not create wealth.
    Buying cheap crap from offshore producers is a waste of money by the consumer, even worse there is no longer an alternative, and the jobs represented are gone as well…pg

  19. Gail Combs says:

    p.g.sharrow, well said! My thoughts exactly.

    People confuse money (in the case of the USA valueless bank scrip) with wealth creation (Labour plus raw material creating something more valuable than the original raw material.)

    In the last decade or so the USA has avoided bankruptcy and collapse by turning on the printing press but we can not continue to have billions in trade deficits each year before other countries pull the plug. Right now America’s biggest export is trash β€” the scrap paper and metal we throw away. I think that says it all.

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    Heritage Foundation ‏@Heritage 27 minutes ago
    The federal government expects to collect $42.1 trillion in revenues between 2017 and 2026β€”and spend $51.4 trillion.



  21. Another Ian says:

    Re p.g.sharrow says:
    24 July 2016 at 3:12 am

    FWIW – I relayed your comment and got this back as a pdf from an ag economist friend

    “Overt he past four decades the rules that govern the
    United States’ free-market system have been Warped.
    That, Rana Foroohar argues in her new book,
    Makers and Takers seriouslyi imperils every American’s
    economric future. How we got here and how to fix it,”

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    Per wealth creation:

    I think there is also value in “location” and “order” of things. So processes that are not strictly manufacturing can still create ‘wealth’.

    A barrel of oil in Saudi Arabia is of little value to me. One in Houston is worth more. The process of shipping and changing the location of that oil creates value. Essentially, all of the shipping and transport industry is creating wealth by changing where the value is realized for a product.

    Information is also a kind of wealth. Having a drone image of my field, showing just where, in IR, fertilizer is needed, means lower cost of inputs for the same output. Increasing my wealth creation. A company providing that information service is creating information wealth. Essentially, from Ag Services to Oil Services (Schlumberger made a mint doing this and finding oil for folks) is creating information wealth out of better “ordering” of things.

    With those two, you could set about sorting other services into “manufacturing support” vs “information support”. (Personally, I’d just admit some services create wealth. Having my teeth still work long after my Dad’s didn’t makes me wealthy in several ways… but it could be sorted other ways). So a Dentist or Doctor could be seen as “manufacturing health”, and a news service as “increasing information order”…

    Similarly, machinery repair increases wealth. Do we class that as “manufacture” (under the rubric of ‘remanufacture’, perhaps?) or just say that repair of manufactures is wealth creative?

    That one is more tricky, as simple ‘needed service’ like oil change and tune-up doesn’t really create anything. It is a sunk expenditure needed to preserve the operation of the vehicle. Yet if the fuel pump breaks, for a $Hundred or so, you can turn a pile of junk into a working car, creating new wealth from that pile of junk that didn’t go…

    Well, this is drifting into an “angels and pins” thing…. but I think real wealth creation has a bit larger scope than the first limited set listed…

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    Interesting line from that link:

    Although the United States Navy has banned Kapton and the insulation is no longer used by Boeing since 1992, the world’s largest planemaker Airbus Industrie continue to use a version of it in their new planes. Even though the British CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has forbidden the use of Kapton insulation in new aircraft designs, a loophole allows it to be used in current designs.

    Despite ample warning about its dangers, the Royal Air Force took delivery of Kapton-wired Harrier GR5s. Two crashed because of the wire before the RAF embarked on a program to modify the use of Kapton in all the vulnerable parts of their planes.

    I thought everyone dumped it in 1992…

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