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Ask the Pilot: BA 777 in Vegas: How NOT to Evacuate a Burning Plane

Ask the Pilot: BA 777 in Vegas: How NOT to Evacuate a Burning Plane

Old Sep 9, 15, 10:15 am
  #1  
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Ask the Pilot: BA 777 in Vegas: How NOT to Evacuate a Burning Plane

Now in Ask the Pilot: Yet another incident with passengers taking their carry-on bags during an evacuation. This time in Las Vegas after a British Airways 777 caught fire during takeoff.

I cannot overemphasize how appallingly unsafe this is. Luggage slows people down and severely impedes their access to the aisles and exits, and it turns the escape slides into a deadly slalom. This time it’s particularly striking, because while most evacuations are precautionary, this one was a full-blown emergency.

And why is this not a bullet-point item in every pre-flight safety demo? This should be a bold-print, bullet-point item in every briefing, emphasized clearly and loudly. Instead we get complicated instructions in the use of seat belts, as if there’s a person alive who doesn’t know how to use one, and all the other needless niceties, layered in airline jargon.

Perhaps most reckless of all is taking a bag down one of the inflatable slides. You can’t really see it in videos or in photos, but those slides are extremely steep. They are not designed with convenience — or fun — in mind. They are designed for no other purpose than to empty a plane of its occupants as rapidly as possible. You’ll be coming down from over two stories high in the case of a widebody jet, at a very rapid clip, with others doing the same in front of you and right behind you. Even without bags people are frequently injured going down the slides. This is expected. Add carry-ons into the mix and somebody is liable to be killed — smacked off the head by your suitcase or baby stroller.


Plus, aborted takeoffs for dummies: a pilot's description of how the LAS emergency would have unfolded.

The full article is here:

http://www.askthepilot.com/emergency-etiquette/


Enjoy,

Patrick Smith


Per FlyerTalk guidelines, I disclose that I am the curator and host of the site linked to above.
GateHold is offline  
Old Sep 9, 15, 11:56 am
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I find the human factors discussion at the end very interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if, after 20 years and millions of miles/5K+ hours in flight, I would grab the bag at my feet out of habit, and toss it over my shoulder. It's a 3 second task, much shorter than opening an overhead.
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Old Sep 9, 15, 1:47 pm
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Some of the luggage was far larger than that

http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/09/some-p...ggage-5383210/
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Old Sep 9, 15, 4:39 pm
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The problem is that if you leave your bags on the plane there's a decent chance you lose them or at least the valuables in them. I can fully understand people taking them in a precautionary evacuation.

In a case like this they know they'll lose them if they don't bring them and the airlines are very good at wiggling out of compensation, I can understand why they do it even when it's insanity in an actual emergency.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 5:52 am
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If I was in a window seat, had to wait for the rest of the row to clear out, and my backpack (with meds and laptop) was at my feet, I'd probably put it on my back because it would add zero time to the overall process. Once it's on, it feels like part of me. I'm used to maneuvering in awkward places while wearing it.

If I was in an aisle seat and it was in an overhead rack which I'd have to get it down from with dozens of people behind me, hoping to get out before the plane explodes, I wouldn't. I also wouldn't take anything that kept one of my hands occupied, no matter where it was or where I was sitting.

Problem is, it's hard to make rules - or even guidelines - that cover all the variables in a situation like this.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
Problem is, it's hard to make rules - or even guidelines - that cover all the variables in a situation like this.
It is actually very easy, and the rules have already been made: don't take anything.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by GateHold View Post
Instead we get complicated instructions in the use of seat belts, as if there’s a person alive who doesn’t know how to use one, and all the other needless niceties, layered in airline jargon.
I recall that there was a recent test which showed that many people had a hard time unfastening their seat belt in a simulated emergency despite the briefing.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
I recall that there was a recent test which showed that many people had a hard time unfastening their seat belt in a simulated emergency despite the briefing.
Exactly. The point of the briefings is to drill, not to instruct. People quite understandably panic in emergencies, and having a recent recollection of clear instructions makes all the difference.
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Old Sep 10, 15, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
If I was in a window seat, had to wait for the rest of the row to clear out, and my backpack (with meds and laptop) was at my feet, I'd probably put it on my back because it would add zero time to the overall process.
This is exactly how I feel. My carry on is always in the overhead, i'd never grab it and it's where I keep my laptop. But my backpack which always has medicine, passports and other critical stuff is always at my feet. I prefer window seats so the chances of me being at the front of any pack are extremely slim. By time the herd was moving I'd easily have my backpack on my back.

Did anyone else see the young lady with her shoes in hand? This is why we frequent fliers keep them on for take off and landing!
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Old Sep 11, 15, 12:44 am
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I find all these arguments of "well I have my passport/medicine in my bag so if I don't take it something worse may happen". Seriously? What exactly is worse than dying of smoke inhalation? What medication, exactly, are you taking that you'll die in the next 30 seconds if you don't have it?

Some people have no sense of proportionality. Your potential inconvenience at a later time is not even near the same magnitude of the danger of someone dying right here, right now when you impede evacuation from a burning aircraft.
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Old Sep 11, 15, 5:42 am
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
This is exactly how I feel. My carry on is always in the overhead, i'd never grab it and it's where I keep my laptop. But my backpack which always has medicine, passports and other critical stuff is always at my feet. I prefer window seats so the chances of me being at the front of any pack are extremely slim. By time the herd was moving I'd easily have my backpack on my back.

Did anyone else see the young lady with her shoes in hand? This is why we frequent fliers keep them on for take off and landing!
The critical stuff is YOU. All those few seconds to put a backpack on if everyone did it add up and may mean 1 person doesn't get off the plane or they are injured.
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Old Sep 11, 15, 5:52 am
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Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
The problem is that if you leave your bags on the plane there's a decent chance you lose them or at least the valuables in them. I can fully understand people taking them in a precautionary evacuation.

In a case like this they know they'll lose them if they don't bring them and the airlines are very good at wiggling out of compensation, I can understand why they do it even when it's insanity in an actual emergency.
What are the odds of getting your stuff stolen when the plane is on fire and you are evacuating in an emergency situation. Who wants to stop to rifle through a purse or two? Or a first responder there to save your life is going to go through your stuff to steal it after they have saved your life.
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Old Sep 11, 15, 8:47 am
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Originally Posted by eigenvector View Post
I find all these arguments of "well I have my passport/medicine in my bag so if I don't take it something worse may happen". Seriously? What exactly is worse than dying of smoke inhalation? What medication, exactly, are you taking that you'll die in the next 30 seconds if you don't have it?

Some people have no sense of proportionality. Your potential inconvenience at a later time is not even near the same magnitude of the danger of someone dying right here, right now when you impede evacuation from a burning aircraft.
Exactly. I keep my passport in my pocket when flying, so it's automatically with me even in an evacuation anyway...but even if I didn't, losing it would be the least of my concerns compared to dying in the fire/smoke. If there were some super important, hard to refill medication I needed, I'd keep that (a reasonable number of pills) direcly on my person as well.
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Old Sep 11, 15, 2:45 pm
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Originally Posted by GateHold View Post
Instead we get complicated instructions in the use of seat belts, as if there’s a person alive who doesn’t know how to use one,
My crusade continues. Yes, we get specific instructions on airplane seat belts because they're different than almost all other modern seat belts.

Since the 80s, the seat belt everyone is used to in their cars is of the push-the-button style. But in airplanes, they still use the very antique lift-the-buckle style.

I can easily imagine people, even in a simulated emergency, frantically pushing down on the buckle of their seat belt thinking they're going to release it, when they actually have to lift up.

So, while you can make a case that there should be more emphasis on "don't take anything" when in an emergency, I firmly believe that the current instructions on how to use an airplane seat belt are logically needed.
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Old Sep 11, 15, 7:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
What are the odds of getting your stuff stolen when the plane is on fire and you are evacuating in an emergency situation. Who wants to stop to rifle through a purse or two? Or a first responder there to save your life is going to go through your stuff to steal it after they have saved your life.
As I said, it's insanity in an actual emergency.
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