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Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:38 am

The recent spate of fires on board aircraft got me thinking about the Manchester Runway disaster, I'm not 100% sure of the exact figures but I believe the AAIB found that many of the deaths could have been prevented if passengers had been provided with a smoke hood.

So should they be provided? To me at least it doesn't seem all that complicated to replace the pull down masks with a hood and portable oxygen bottle rather than the generator.

Finally, do you think security would say anything if you had one in your carry on? I've made no secret of the fact that I have decided to avoid aircraft I deem as dangerous, but should the situation arise where it was unavoidable then I don't think it would be such a bad idea to have one. I just wonder what security would say about it...
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:09 am

I think the big issue with having a smokehood and portable oxygen per pax is that when you have a situation where there is a possible fire or heat being produced - having that much oxygen on board can create an even bigger disaster with explosive consequences. IMO improvements in materials that are more fire retardant, or parts of aircraft that don't emit gaseous fumes when overheated or on fire would be much more beneficial.

There are supplies of smokehoods on board (flight deck and cabin) for the crew to use in order to combat any smoke or flames while backup crew initiate tasks like informing the flight deck, distributing wet or damp cloths for pax to breathe through and telling them to stay low, removing portable oxygen from the vicinity of a fire etc.

As per carrying around a smokehood in your carry on luggage - I don't know if it would be that useful. I think they actually may be considered dangerous goods actually. The ones that are used at my company last approximately 20 minutes. The most I've heard some others - is that they last 30 minutes. They also become extremely hot due to the generator. I think if there ever was a fire on board the best would be to fight the fire by removing one of the elements of fire - heat, oxygen, or fuel. Thats why there are fire extinguishers on board, ashtrays (as they are still the safest place to put out a cig apparently), etc.
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:35 am

Oxygen generators & bottles are considered and treated as dangerous goods themselves. Any airline & security should stop you from ''casually'' bringing aboard your own devices. Worst comes to worst, the oxygen from your personal supply might provide even more fuel to any fire that could occur. Fly2yyz rightly points out a situation could become even worse if every pax was carrying their own additional supply.

Something else to consider, smoke hoods can be uncomfortable to wear and of course somewhat restrict your field of vision and movement of head & neck. For those of us trained to work with smoke hoods that is one thing and we now know what to expect but imagine pax who are not used to using it and have no idea. I can imagine evacuations actually being slowed by such situations so any overall benefit quickly disappears.

I think the Manchester incident was worsened by the fact that the fire had time to spread as the crew was thinking they may have had a tyre burst and so they were braking slower. Also the wind direction that turned the fire back towards the fuselage made matters worse. I doubt smoke hoods in that situation with what i have described above included would have resulted in more survivors.

[Edited 2013-07-18 20:38:28]

[Edited 2013-07-18 20:39:15]
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:44 am

Oxygen masks and smoke hoods serve very different purposes. The oxygen mask is for a decompression. If the airplane is on the ground and filled with smoke, you should not be worried about an oxygen mask.

One major reason why smoke hoods were not adopted is tat they are disorienting and can slow an evacuation. If you are a nervous flyer, you can always bring your own smoke hood. I see no reason security would stop you.

The bigger problem with the Manchester disaster is that the evacuation was handled poorly. Those were the days before exit briefings and flight attendants initiating evacuations without pilot direction. Also it was before flame resistant insulation blankets and fire retardant interiors.
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:50 pm

I think escape masks could be added on passenger aircraft. They don't use much space and are fairly easy to use. For example my current work place has Dräger Parat C masks in the hallways in case of fire. They don't contain oxygen but rather have a filter against noxious gas. It takes like 10 seconds to don one even if your not used to them.

However in an aircraft emergency, I'm not sure they would do any good. In an in flight fire, the situation is unlikely to get bad enough that damp towels wouldn't suffice. And like the psychologist said, in an evacuation the main goal is to get out not to struggle with the mask.

However it could be possible that the passengers would only take the mask with them and only don it if there's a delay in the evacuation or too much smoke. This could possibly be too complex to decide for panicky passengers, people could start to put the mask on instead of proceeding to exits as quickly as possible. So I'm not entirely convinced that they are necessary .
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:26 pm

I carry my own Dragar Parat C. I fly all the time, and spend a lot of time in hotels as a result and a smoke hood without an oxygen generator is good for both situations.
I disagree that a damp towel will suffice. Acrid fumes from oil in the bleed air system, or Skydrol mist in the cabin can be debilitating.
And where exactly do you get a damp towel in an emergency? I'm sure the FAs in Manchester weren't spending their time handing them out.

But most importantly, realize that the odds of you being in a situation like that are extremely small (lottery type odds, if not more) so the justification for mandatory hoods isn't very good.
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:01 pm

You can easily bring you own smoke hood on board. Any American supermarket will sell poultry/turkey roasting bags. Season your turkey, pop it in the bag, roast, no mess. In one of my FAA training classes, one of the speakers got up on stage, opened the bag, covered his head, tightened it around his neck, and started lecturing. He started getting very winded around 3 minutes into the talk (when, obviously, he removed the bag rather than commit suicide). FAA demands full evacuation of an aircraft within 90 seconds. Bag over the head gives you heat and smoke protection (except if you are a turkey), and ample leeway to get out of the smoldering aircraft. To date, I've never had to use mine. (Oh, I keep my shoes on for take off and landing. You DON'T want to be running through burning jet fuel barefoot or in nylon socks.
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RE: Should Smoke Hoods Be Mandatory?

Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:18 am

I carried a Brookside Evac-U8 smokehood in my carry-on luggage for many (20?) years. Several years ago, I found out that the FTC forced Brookside to recall them, as they didn't filter CO as well as claimed. I figured that something was better than nothing and continued to carry it. Finally, I got tired of getting harassed by the TSA everytime I went through security and stopped carrying it. I only ran into one TSA agent who knew what it was - he had been a firefighter. Otherwise, I got very used to hearing "I need to get my supervisor", who would then disappear with it for 15 minutes, only to come back and say it was OK. I had to stop one agent from opening it. Strangely, I had very little trouble going through security with it in other countries, such as Israel, Morocco, China, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Italy, etc.

I like the idea of the turkey roasting bag - I think I'll start carrying one.

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