Showing posts with label aircraft evacuations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aircraft evacuations. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2008

BA cabin crew praised for post-crash evacuation

Crew of British Airways Flight 38The cabin crew of the British Airways B-777 that crash landed at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) on January 17 are being praised for their quick action and professionalism in initiating and carrying out the evacuation of the aircraft.

Pictured at right are the senior crew members from BA Flight 38. From left to right, senior First Officer John Coward, who was the pilot flying at the time of the incident; Captain Peter Burkill, pilot in command; and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer, the senior cabin crew member on the flight.

The photo was taken at a press conference, during which Capt. Burkill said:

"I want to pay tribute to the cabin crew and Cabin Service Director Sharron Eaton-Mercer who carried out the evacuation of the passengers with speed, efficiency and care, some incurring minor injuries in the process.

It was typical of Sharon's selflessness that she took time to check that we on the flight deck were all right before going down the chute herself."
The cabin crew were praised as well by British Airways CEO Willie Walsh. A number of passengers who had been on board BA Flight 38 also commented publicly that the cabin crew had remained calm and had quickly evacuated all the passengers in an orderly fashion.

The incident that resulted in the crash landing occurred very late in the flight, while the aircraft was on short finals. The flight deck crew had not been able to warn the cabin crew before the aircraft hit the ground. The cabin crew reportedly initiated the unplanned evacuation as soon as the aircraft came to a rest.

The United Kingdom's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a preliminary report on the accident, excerpts of which have been posted on the Professional Pilot News blog. The report noted "minor" injuries to four of the crew. The report also notes that nine passengers also sustained injuries: eight classified as "minor" and one "serious." This is in contrast to press reports that had said there were no serious injuries.

The AAIB investigation is continuing.

[Photo Source]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

British Airways crash landing and evacuation at Heathrow

A British Airways flight arriving at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) from Beijing crash landed at LHR early this afternoon, local time. There were 136 passengers and 16 crew on board the B777-236ER, operating as BA Flight 38. No one was seriously injured, but the aircraft was severely damaged. There was no fire.

Early reports suggest that the aircraft lost power on final approach. The aircraft landed hard on the grass inside the airport's perimeter fence, and skidded several hundred meters before coming to a stop near the threshold of runway 27L. All passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using emergency slides. There were reports of minor injuries to several people.

Several news media outlets interviewed passengers who were on the flight. They said there was no warning from the crew, and that most people did not realize that the plane had landed short of the runway until it had come to a stop. The cabin crew carried out the unplanned evacuation immediately, and without further incident.

Click here to view a video of a BBC News interview with some passengers from BA Flight 38.

Mr. Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways, praised the crew's actions in a statement to the press. Part of his statement is included in this video posted on YouTube by the Associated Press.

(If the video does not play or display properly, click here to view it on YouTube.)

Congratulations to the crew of BA Flight 38 for a job well done.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Evacuation of burning China Airlines B737 at Naha, Okinawa

A China Airlines B737 burst into flames at Naha, Okinawa yesterday morning. The aircraft had just arrived on a scheduled flight from Taipei, and passengers were preparing to deplane when the aircraft caught fire. All 157 passengers and eight crew members evacuated the aircraft safely just before it exploded. Congratulations to the cabin crew of China Airlines Flight 120 for managing to evacuate everyone, and with no serious injuries.

China Airlines officials publicly praised the crew, describing them as "heroes," and a spokesman for the Taiwan government's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said, "Based on the information we have gathered, they evacuated all the passengers in accordance with the standard operation procedure, which requires that all passengers be evacuated within 90 seconds in the case of emergency."

Crew members were identified as You Chien-kuo (captain), Tseng Ta-wei (first officer), cabin chief Kang Li-mei, and flight attendants Cheng Hsieh-jer, Fan Jin-yao, Chang Chia-wen, and Hung Kuan-lin, all from Taiwan. Another flight attendant, a Japanese national, was not identified by name.

From The China Post:

[Captain] You thanked his crew, saying "they immediately evacuated all the passengers upon receiving my order."

"Without them, I would not have the opportunity to stand here to meet you tonight," he said.

You said all he thought about when dealing with the crisis was to make sure that all passengers and crew members were safe.

Only after he saw cabin chief Kang make a safe landing on the ground through an evacuation sliding chute did he order Tseng to quickly get out of the plane.

Television pictures showed Captain You telling the copilot to climb out of the two-story cockpit via rope before doing so himself. Seconds later, the blaze set off a chain of explosions.
This video of the event shows clearly what a close call it was for all those on board:

If the video does not play or display properly here, you can view "China airlines 737 explodes in Okinawa" on YouTube.

Tip of the hat to YouTube user Hobox72 for posting the video.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The trouble with cabin crew smoke hoods

Cabin crew everywhere will be interested to read a report just issued by Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) about an in-flight emergency due to smoke inside the aircraft. The cabin crew had to wear smoke hoods during the emergency, but the smoke hoods impaired their ability to communicate with their passengers.

According to the AAIB report, on August 4, 2005, a DHC-8-400 aircraft operated by Flybe was en route from Birmingham to Edinburgh with four crew and 56 passengers on board. Smoke developed inside the flight deck and the cabin. The flight diverted to Leeds Bradford International Airport (LBA) where it made a safe emergency landing.

Here is an account of what happened, with excerpts from the AAIB report.

The incident began when the pilots detected an "oily smell" on the flight deck.

They asked the cabin crew, via the interphone, whether the smell was evident in the passenger cabin and, almost immediately, noticed a white/blue haze appearing on the flight deck, accompanied simultaneously by the toilet smoke alarm.
The pilots donned their smoke masks and began a smoke checklist.
While the pilots were actioning the checklist the two cabin crew members heard the smoke alarm in the forward toilet sound and then found that the toilet was full of whitish coloured smoke. The senior cabin crew member informed the flight crew using the interphone. The pilots' response was delayed because they were occupied with the checklist actions. The cabin crew then donned smoke hoods.
At this point, the captain declared a 'MAYDAY' and descended for an approach to LBA.
...The cabin crew were briefed to prepare the cabin for an emergency landing in 10 minutes and a passenger evacuation on the runway.

The cabin crew found the smoke in the cabin getting thicker, until they could no longer see the length of the cabin. The senior cabin crew member played an emergency announcement tape and made a public address to the passengers, briefing them that there would be an emergency landing, for which they should adopt the brace position.

The cabin crew then checked the passengers and secured cabin baggage. Some passengers enquired about breathing protection for themselves, but smoke protection for passengers is not a requirement on public transport aircraft.
The report goes on to note that as power was increased during the approach there was a significant increase in the smoke inside the aircraft. Hearing difficulties caused by the smoke hoods prevented the cabin crew from hearing the landing calls from the flight deck.

The aircraft landed safely at LBA and the passenger evacuation "proceeded in an orderly fashion." There were no injuries.

The AAIB report includes this note about crew communication during the incident:
In their reports on the incident the flight crew noted that, after the emergency had been declared, a high workload had prevented them from communicating with the cabin crew for some time. The cabin crew commented that delays in obtaining a response from the flight deck to cabin emergency calls at times had caused concern as to the state of the flight crew.

It was suggested that consideration should be given to introducing a standard method by which the flight crew could confirm to the cabin crew that they were not incapacitated but were temporarily too busy to reply, such as a triple activation of the seat belt audio alert in the cabin.

The cabin crew also reported that the smoke hoods had severely hindered ommunications with the passengers, impeding both hearing and being heard. Because of this, one of the cabin crew had removed her hood shortly before landing.
Regarding the smoke hoods, the report concluded that verbal communication while wearing the hood was difficult for the cabin crew due to "a reduction in speech and hearing volume due to the hood and to interference from relatively loud sounds perceived by the hood wearer, caused by rustling of the hood, the sound of the wearer’s breathing and the sound of the wearer's voice."

The report includes several safety recommendations for improved means of emergency communication between the flight deck and the cabin crew, and for a review of cabin crew training in the use of smoke hoods aimed at the ability to communicate while wearing the hoods.

Click here to view AAIB Bulletin: 4/2007 - Bombardier DHC-8-400, G-JECE (10-page 'pdf' file).

[Photo Source]

Monday, April 9, 2007

Allegiant Air emergency evacuation at SFB

Last month I posted two stories in this blog about emergency aircraft evacuations -- one from the Biman accident inDubai, and another that happened after a rejected takeoff by an El Al aircraft in Tel Aviv. A few days ago I came across another emergency evacuation story that is worth sharing.

This event occurred late last month at Orlando Sanford Airport when an Allegiant Air MD80 landed with its nose gear retracted. The evacuation story, which appeared on New Hampshire news website Foster's Online, was told by a gentleman who was a passenger on Allegiant Air Flight 758 that day along with two of his family members.

The man, identified as Bill Bryon, explained that a series of PA announcements from the flight deck had informed passengers of a problem with the landing gear. At first the flight crew thought that they could lower the gear manually, but that didn't seem to work.

"What was probably the scariest part of the entire trip was when they started to do maneuvers to try to get the landing gear down," he said. "One was called porpoising, where they were moving the plane up and down pretty quickly to try to get the landing gear unstuck. I thought they might be losing control of the plane."

"After that, they started banking the plane steeply and moved the rudder to create a dragging effect to try to dislodge the gear. The plane would shudder and make a strange noise and we kind of felt like the plane wasn't in control," he said.
These maneuvers apparently did not work either, so plans for an emergency landing were made.
"[They told us] that we would have to follow close instructions for emergency landing," said Bryon. "They said there would be fire trucks and emergency personnel waiting for us, so the stakes were getting a little higher at that point and everyone's level of tension rose."

"One thing that was amazing was that the passengers were extremely well controlled and cooperative," he said. "I expected there would be crying and stuff like that, but there wasn't. People were asking what was going on, but no one was crying."
Bryon said flight attendants instructed passengers on how to brace, "and to remove sharp objects like pens and pencils from their pockets, and to put all watches and jewelry away."
"They told us if we had extra jackets and sweatshirts to put them on, and that made us think of the possibility of a fire," he said.

They were told to keep their heads down until the aircraft stopped and then stay in their seats unless the crew yelled 'evacuate,' in which case they would leave through emergency doors on the side. As the jet lowered toward the runway and flight attendants started chanting 'Keep your head down,' Bryon said the reality set in.
The passenger said that as the plane was descending, he was mentally preparing himself for a crash landing. Fortunately, the aircraft did not crash.

The plane touched down on its main gear and the passengers "could feel the grinding of metal on the tarmac as the nose went down and then started to smell the burning aluminum coming in." Then the aircraft came to a halt, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief -- briefly.
"All of us exhaled, but when they said 'evacuate,' the fear rose again thinking that there might be a fire to deal with," he said.

Even then, Bryon said he was surprised by his fellow passengers.

"It was kind of a refreshing look at human behavior," he said.

"I was prepared to stand and block the aisle so my wife and daughter could get out, and was expecting a lot of pushing and shoving, but truthfully everyone went row by row and it was calm and orderly," he said. "Normally you tend to be cynical about humans but in this case they were very noble."

Bryon said as soon as passengers slid down the wing and were caught by firefighters and EMTs, they all felt an instant camaraderie.

"I think everybody was pretty much afraid up there that this might be their last trip, so when we landed there were people hugging that didn't even know each other," he said. "There was this bond there that for a short time transcended petty differences between people. We were just appreciative of being alive."
Nice to know that the passengers on this flight were so cooperative. Bravo to the flight deck crew for that remarkable landing -- and for doing their best to keep those in the cabin informed about what was happening during the emergency. And congratulations to the flight attendants for preparing the cabin and evacuating the aircraft so smoothly through the over-wing exits and forward doors.

[Photo Source]

Monday, March 26, 2007

Emergency evacuation of El Al flight at Tel Aviv

Yesterday the crew and passengers aboard an El Al Israel Airlines B737 were evacuated from the aircraft at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. El Al Flight LY347 was just about to take off for Zürich when smoke was detected inside the aircraft. The evacuation was accomplished using emergency slides.

Journalist Michael Freund, who happened to be a passenger aboard the flight, provided an interesting eyewitness report, which was published on along with some photos. The photo at the top of this post showing an evacuation slide still attached to the aircraft was taken by Mr. Freund at the scene.

Here is an excerpt of Mr. Freund's account, as it appeared on

We were on the runway for takeoff around 6:45am. The plane was taxiing and picking up speed, when it suddenly began to slow down before coming to a full, and somewhat abrupt, stop.

There was an odor of smoke in the cabin, and passengers began looking around somewhat anxiously, wondering what was happening. The pilot got on the intercom and told us to get up from our seats and to exit the plane as calmly and as quickly as possible.

The inflatable emergency slides were opened, and we each had to slide down out of the plane onto the tarmac. Fire trucks and ambulances arrived almost immediately, and all the passengers were told to move away from the plane and to stand on the grass along the side of the runway.

There was no sense of panic, and people filed off the plane in an orderly fashion - perhaps more orderly than on a typical El Al flight.
Another news report about the incident, published by Haaretz, quotes another passenger about the evacuation:
Yossi Harmoni, a passenger on the flight, described the scene inside the cabin: "Everyone knows the feeling of speeding down the runway just before taking off. This time, during the acceleration, we suddenly felt the plane stopping."

As it stopped, he continued, "we began to notice a smell and smoke. The smoke wasn't very thick, like a room in which people are smoking, but the smell was strong. The plane stopped with a jolt. The doors opened quickly, within seconds. Unfortunately, there were passengers who tried to gather their things, which delayed the evacuation."
Passengers were later accommodated on other flights to their destination.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Evacuation stories from the Biman accident in Dubai

Yesterday, an aircraft accident occurred at Dubai International Airport after an A310 operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines aborted takeoff. The nose gear collapsed, the aircraft pitched forward, and ultimately skidded to a stop near the end of the runway, resting on its nose and its engines. (For details about what happened, click here.)

All 236 aboard Biman Flight BG006 were evacuated from the aircraft using emergency chutes. A report about the evacuation on the Gulf News website says that more than twenty of the passengers were hurt during the evacuation. Some injuries occurred because one of the slides did not reach all the way to the ground.

Here are a few passenger 'first person' accounts from that same news report:

"I fell on my back and got my arms and neck sprained," said Abdul Qader, a passenger who was travelling along with his 22-year-old daughter Noorjahan.

The passengers said no one listened to the announcements that were being made by the cabin crew to remain calm.

"Even before the aircraft could stop, many of the passengers just got up from their seats trying to reach out for their hand baggage from the overhead cabins. Children were crying, mothers were screaming.

"Everyone thought that at any given moment the aircraft was just going to explode," said a passenger, 55-year-old Abdul Bashar, who sustained bruises on his feet, hands and legs.

He said panic gripped the passengers when the aircraft cabin filled with black smoke making it difficult to breathe...

"When the aircraft came to a halt, all the passengers who were seated in the back seats fell on the ones who were seated into the front rows," said Nuruzzaman, another passenger.

"The airplane started to take off, and about 30 seconds later it became very bumpy and after that I heard a bang and the plane started to shake," recalled Mohammad Jahn, 30.

He said: "The cabin crew were also panicking. Initially nothing was done by the crew to help us, and they refused to open the door, saying that there was nothing to worry about."
Another article -- also published by Gulf News -- talked about the people who were injured in the evacuation. Most of the injuries were relatively minor. Only one woman needed to be taken to a hospital.
Abdul Rahman, the husband of the 54-year old woman who was taken to the hospital, told Gulf News that a combination of smoke and passengers' rush to exit the aircraft was to blame for his wife's injuries.

His wife, Mariam Begum, a UK resident of Bangladeshi origin, was treated at the trauma centre for lacerations on her forehead, which required stitches, and scratches on her left hand.

"We were taxiing down the runway and something went wrong with the tyres. And then my wife saw fire in the engine. Smoke filled the cabin," he said.

At that point, he said everyone started to panic.

"There was too much smoke. Nobody could see anything. Everybody was pushing, so she fell down. They all wanted to get out at the same time," he said.
Fortunately the woman's injuries were not as severe as originally feared and she was later discharged from the hospital.

[Photo Source]