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Ground Fire And Evacuation Problems  
User currently offlineCricri From France, joined Oct 1999, 581 posts, RR: 6
Posted (14 years 1 month 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3312 times:

one month ago, during pax boarding (plane was already 2/3 full with pax) a fire started in the cargo hold of an heavy, immediately the crew proceeded to an emergency evacuation of the cabin but without using slides. The problem is, 2 doors were occupied with catering and one with the ramp so that 3 doors were unoperational at the time for an evacuation and the crew encountered difficulties to get all the ppl out of the plane. The plane cargo hold was heavily damaged and the bird was grounded during 5 weeks. Now the point i want to hit is following : if the fire would have been expanding faster and becoming a real danger the difficulties of an evacuation would really have been a problem and u would maybe have had fatalities and injuries. Is someone faulty in such a case? Is it normal to have up to 3 doors inop when passengers are on board? and last, what are the different carrier's policies around the world about that?
Thanks for your answers and enlightments.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3222 times:

OK, here's the score.

The certification requirements (as defined in JAR 25 and other equivalents) is that the aircraft must be evacuated within 90 seconds, using only half the available exits. The reasoning behind the second part is that we assume, for example, that there is a fire on one whole side of the aircraft.

You stated that 3 exits were inoperable. Firstly, why was on inoperable because of the ramp? Secondly, one most large aircraft, you will have about 8 exits (including the overwing exits). Therefore, there should be no problem.

I suspect that part (most?) of the problem was that passengers were still boarding and so paid no attention to the FAs, tried to take their bags back off the a/c with them and generally behaved like "self-loading cargo" usually does.

Due to the tight turn-around times, it is normal to have loading going on at the same time as passenger boarding. I don't know what the current situation in the civil world is, but I believe that the a/c has to complete refuelling BEFORE the passengers board. Apart from that, it's a case of getting everything on board ASAP.

The last thing is that there are flame-retardant tests during certification that mean that the cabin area remains "survivable" for quite a long time while the cargo hold is merrily burning away.

Sorry if this is a bit brief. If you need any more details, let me know.

The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
User currently offlineCricri From France, joined Oct 1999, 581 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (14 years 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3196 times:

Okie BS thanks for your reply
Yes i'm aware of this 90s evacuation time standard.
My issue regarding the ramp at door 11 was that u still had some passengers boarding "from the ramp to the plane" so that they encountered the exiting flow.
Now, as u said, the cabin was still ok at the time the fire was burning in the cargo hold, would that be a reason not to inflate the slides? I know security has to be put on top and that u have to act without any hesitation but at the opposite i know that inflating a slide has a cost and that some f/as are maybe a little reluctant to do it if not absolutely necessary (form filling, safety council debriefing, plane stranded or less passengers taken for the flight etc...) My question, therefore, can be answered by f/as too, i would like to get their honest point of view.
Best regards. Cricri.

User currently offlineMikeclod From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 272 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3177 times:

In regards to fueling, all of the airlines I deal with allow fueling w/pax on board as long as a uniformed flight attendent is on board to "insure there is no smoking"(a little dated), and to evac. the plane if neccesary. The only time you need to empty the plane or hold boarding for fueling is when it is neccesary to overwing fuel, and then only while fueling the boarding side.

User currently offlineEddgge From Sweden, joined Jul 2001, 123 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (14 years 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3140 times:

interesting... but WHY does the aircraft have to be empty when they fuel the wing tanks? i mena, if they can fuel the other tanks with pax onboard they could as well refuel the wing tanks?  Confused

User currently offlineWilcharl From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1183 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (14 years 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3138 times:

i noticed on VS, that they said over and over again during feuling "please DO NOT fasten your seat belt during fueling in case of egress" during a normal turn I was always told it was "unprofessional" to have catering cleaning or MX on an aircraft and that all methods of egress had to be avaialble during fueling...

User currently offlineFredT From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2002, 2185 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (14 years 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3136 times:

One consideratio which was probably on the captains mind when he decided not to pop the slides is that during a slide evacuation there always seem to be a couple of injuries.


I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
User currently offlineMikeclod From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 272 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (14 years 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3119 times:

It only needs to be empty when Overwinging the side the passengers board on. This is done so in case of a fuel spill or whatnot the passengers aren't in as much danger. It's pretty standard to overwing the left side (that's usually where pax board) first, once you leave that side they can start boarding while you finish the right side. If you are fueling normally, (underwing/singlepoint) passengers can board normally and you do fuel both sides simultaneously.
Hope this helps, Mikeclod

User currently offlineBjones From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 123 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (14 years 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3112 times:

I would assume they didn't use the slides becuase they felt that the risk of injury using the slides exceeded the risk of injury in the delay to get out the cabin door. The fact that servicing was going on through several doors didn't slow anything down since those doors would not have been available to passengers anyways unless the slides were used. Getting off the plane into the catering truck wouldn't get them very far.

As far as fueling with passengers on board. Our procedures allow it as long as the passenger boarding door is kept open. Anytime we have passengers on the aircraft on the ground even if it is just one and there is no fueling going on we must have at least half the required flight attendant crew on board.

User currently offlineCricri From France, joined Oct 1999, 581 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (14 years 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3108 times:

and .... it that specific case I have told about, I do think it's against every safety standard to have two opposite doors inop at the same time. I remember having sent back a caterer because door #14 was occupied and he wanted to cater via #24. I spoke briefly to the captain and he agreed with me, so the guy (who was very mad at me) had to disengage himself during the boarding. Anyway I think that most of the time ground people do not know how dangerous it can be to get hit by a deploying slide, I know that time is money but never forget that safety procedures where no set just for fun, there is always a reason for them.

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