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Saturday, October 3, 2015

BA on fire at Mc Carran Airport ~and the response of passengers

The other day, Executive of EMRI 108 spoke on the safety and on providing immediate attendance to an accident victim.  People can help in many ways – from attending to the victim, providing first aid only when qualified to do so, calling 108, collecting the possessions of the person injured, keeping them safe and handing over to relatives / appropriate persons.

Often the accident scene turns chaotic and in the melee, some unscrupulous persons try to steal the belongings of the hapless victim.  This could be the general scenario involving a road accident victim ~is the air any different, especially as it involves people from the higher echelons of society ?

Earlier this month, a British Airways flight bound for London was on tarmac at McCarran Airport.  As it was rushing along the runway,  it suddenly burst into flames. Passengers escaped down evacuation slides and ran from the aircraft.  Reports suggest that 14 people were taken to local hospitals to be treated for minor injuries. Someone on board said the plane filled with smoke, causing panic. Passengers started running towards the door in a bid to get out; the Boeing 777, which was built in 1998, has a good safety record. 

Passengers on board a British Airways flight which was forced to abort a take off after an engine burst into flames have been criticised for stopping for their cabin baggage before evacuating the aircraft.  MailOnline reports that the Boeing 777-200 ER reached 90mph when the Captain Chris Henkey, 63, was forced to abort his takeoff at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. After safety stopping the aircraft, Captain Henkey ordered the passengers to evacuate the aircraft, but video footage shows many of those fleeing the aircraft brought their cabin luggage with them.

Some of those spotted on the runway after escaping down the emergency chutes were carrying two items of luggage.  

The British Airways flight bound for London Gatwick was loaded with passengers on the tarmac at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas when it burst into flames - just before it was supposed to take off.  Terrified travellers on other flights captured the plumes of smoke billowing from the Boeing 777. Emergency services rushed to the aircraft from all sides of the airport - the 9th busiest in the United States.  The plane was travelling at 90mph when the engine exploded - but the pilot stopped it within nine seconds.

Audio of Mr Henkey's Mayday call reveals how the captain with 40 years of flying experience remained calm and collected as he realised a fire had taken hold. He asked the Las Vegas control tower to send fire engines and told them he was evacuating the British Airways 777, which took just three minutes.  A British passenger travelling business class, described a 'slight jolt, then a bang' before the plane came to a stop. He was also full of praise for the pilot, who appears to have been more concerned for his passengers' safety rather than his own.

Another passenger, who was sitting by the wing, told how he feared for his life after hearing a 'massive bang' as they accelerated down the runway. 'Then you could begin to see the flames coming through - you could feel the heat so I moved further into the middle of the plane,' he told the paper.

According to preliminary information, the plane experienced a left engine fire on takeoff, said a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration's Pacific Division.  One runway was shut but flights continued to depart on remaining runways as paramedics treated those caught up in the fire. It took just two minutes for the fire service the reach the burning plane.

Stills from a video showed the evacuation slides deployed at each end of the plane as the smoke rises. Passengers said there was a panicked rush for the exits when the fire started.  The  picture led people to question where people's priorities were as they left the burning plane. One side of the plane was damaged in the fire. The evacuation slides were  deployed – but those rushing outside, were thoughtful or otherwise to take out their cabin baggage and run with them.  The  pictures of 'dozens' of people walking along the runway with their carry-on bags has angered some on social media.

Somehow people were not panicky, they were not paying attention to safety, but were keen on their bags and belongings.  Even in the melee, the crew's swift reaction has been praised by experts as well, with  one calling it was 'textbook' - despite the evacuation being slightly slowed by smoke pouring in through the door.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Sept. 2015.

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