An investigation into an American Airlines plane fire at O’Hare last year may spawn more safety regulations on aircrafts.
Passengers on the October 28, 2016, American Airlines Flight 383 from Chicago to Miami underwent a harrowing experience before the plane was even able to take off. At nearly the end of the runway, the right engine exploded and burst into flames. The pilot heard the blast and felt the plane pull, so he immediately stopped takeoff – slamming to a stop with only about 3,700 feet left of the runway. But, an investigation into the incident reveals, the pilot never knew the plane was on fire until the last minute.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the fire, the pilot and co-pilot did not know how bad the situation was, nor that there was a fire at all. Flight attendants were unable to reach them in the cockpit because fire alarms from the smoke-filling cabin were masking the sound of the attendant chime. And with no mirrors or cameras outside the aircraft, the pilots – and the flight attendants in first class – couldn’t see flames because of such large blind spots.
The flight attendants took matters into their own hands, evacuating all the passengers onto emergency inflatable slides, but not without injury. At least 20 passengers were injured, one seriously. Luckily everyone made it out alive.
The incident itself, though, may bring about changes in aircraft equipment. When the NTSB interviewed the pilot about the fire and asked if exterior cameras would have made a difference, he said it would have.
“From the cockpit they could not see their wings or the engines,” the investigation’s preliminary report says. “Had they been able to assess the situation it may have changed their decision, especially if they would have known how large the fire was.”
This reference could indicate a move to an industry-wide regulation about using exterior cameras.