View Full Version : NW Pilots rope escape from cockpit at IAD

20th Sep 2001, 04:02
At IAD on September 18, the pilots of a NW flight destined for Amsterdam used an escape hatch and rope ladder to leave the plane after an emergency was declared on-board.

According to the Washington Post, an unidentified crew member declared an emergency (the nature of the emergency was not given) but it was a false alarm. The pilots apparently quickly exited the plane, leaving the rest of the crew and passengers on-board to await the arrival of the FBI.

for full story,see:

20th Sep 2001, 08:49
Sounds like a fiasco.

"Crew members told passengers that the flight was delayed because of air traffic . . ."

Not exactly a confidence-building tactic.

[ 20 September 2001: Message edited by: Eboy ]

20th Sep 2001, 16:18
And the Captain should be the last one to leave the airplane? Leaving the rest of the crew and passengers alone? Shame on him!!!! :mad:

20th Sep 2001, 17:47
But lads,
Surely it's SOP for a lot of airlines for the pilots to get out if hijacked on the ground?
Also it's all very well sitting here pontificating about at leisure; It's a bit different when you have an airplane strapped to your back. :eek:

21st Sep 2001, 02:24
More details. The episode started when a flight attendant called a friend on her cell phone (the plane was apparently still at the gate) and voiced her suspicion about a passenger who she thought was going to hijack the plane. The friend called the FBI who called the FAA who summoned airport security forces who surrounded the plane, and the three pilots bailed out the cockpit window, leaving the remainder of the crew and the passengers in the cabin. No explanation for why the flight attendant did not first speak to the flight crew or gate agents about her concern.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A 60111-2001Sep20.html (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A60111-2001Sep20.html)

[ 20 September 2001: Message edited by: SaturnV ]

Flap 5
21st Sep 2001, 08:53
SOP's do not take account of what happened on 11 September. If this happened as it is reported here then that was a good move by the pilots. Some may consider it a little excessive, but 11 September has changed everything. Remember if there are no pilots there is no one to threaten and any hijacker would be frustrated. Certainly the cabin crew should have told the Captain first, but who knows what the exact circumstances were?

Ignition Override
21st Sep 2001, 10:14
This is a very interesting and educational incident, but maybe it is best not to inform the thousands of Pprune lay readers exactly which confidential steps might be taken in case an actual "bad situation" were to happen. So much for crew coordination at IAD-isn't the interphone available for any concerns? Or was a certain handset inop, with no chance to find another crewmember or employee nearby?

Let's not publicly "telegraph" any solutions to such serious problems, in case potential trouble-makers scan the media. Why must everything be out in the open in our society?

22nd Sep 2001, 01:35
I recall a hijack on the ground somewhere in the third world where the pilots exited via the cockpit windows before the hijakers got there. The airplane stayed on the ground and I believe the passengers survived, except for perhaps one or two killed by the hijackers.

At the time, the airline publically stated this was their SOP.

It takes considerably more training than the Sept. 11 lot had to fire up the systems and get the airplane off the ground.

22nd Sep 2001, 07:01
This precedent creates a great opportunity.

Since the WTC incident I have proposed a number of suggestions on various Pprune forii for simple, currently feasible mechanisms that will guarantee no repetition ever again of the pax aircraft component of the WTC incident.

What this (alarm/bail) incident teaches us is that pax aircraft can/should be equipped with a "fuse" that absolutely prevents departure while a/c is still on ground (shutdown if already lit), and that there should be a button available to the crew at the pointy end which blows the sucker in a hot second.

Technical details are cheap/easy. The guys in the tower can keep some spares for repair of embarassing mistake activations. (It looks like a 3AG, but really has a cpu & other stuff inside, so not a replicable item.) The plan obviously wants to include a gold-plated squat switch...a couple of them.

Precedent exists: One expects that hungover crews in the backwaters have exercised similar freshly invented no-go options in times past.

23rd Sep 2001, 23:41
Ratherbeflying.... I recall this was a Pan American 747 at Karachi Pakistan.

24th Sep 2001, 08:14
Ratherbeflying/Scan Sacan
Yes it was a Pan AM 747 enroute to Frankfurt
from Bombay which was hijacked while on ground at an intermediate stop in Karachi back in 1986. The cockpit crew exited the
aircraft and later the commandos stormed the plane. Around 15 people lost their lives including a stewrdess who according to newsreports at that time was trying to protect some young children from the cross fire.

Ignition Override
24th Sep 2001, 09:10
Wasn't an Egyptair 737 hijacked to Malta years ago with tragic results for numerous passengers? Off the topic a bit, concerning actual hostages: do politics or national pride ever prevent asking a neighboring country to fly in a much-better trained squad of assault troops, who are sometimes trained for hostage rescue, when time permits?

I've read about the British SAS' successes and the German team's success many years ago with the Lufthansa plane in Mogadishu, Somalia, not to mention the Israeli Mossad. They spent twenty years "tracking down" those Black September members involved in the murders in '72 during the Munich Olympics. Do France, Italy or others there also have top-notch teams?

The US has at least one team which the military won't even acknowledge. Hopefully, unnecessary overlap between various branches of the DOD won't hinder our "immediate goals"-people died in the Iranian desert when numerous branchs of the DOD all had to have a piece of the action, according to reports. In Grenada, different forces used different radios which were incompatible. One officer called the US in order to relay info to nearby troops or aircraft. Thank God the ZSUs' radar was "inop per MEL"! I rode a cargo jet jumpseat next to an FE-a former C-130 AC on that mission-who quickly turned around when the awful ZSUs sprayed large tracers around.

[ 24 September 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]

24th Sep 2001, 18:53

IIRC, in the EgyptAir case, the aircraft was stormed by Eygptian commandoes and many passengers were killed in the process. Rescuing hostages from an aircraft is apparently a very difficult and specialized operation.

Germany, France, the UK, and the US all have highly regarded teams trained in this sort of thing. Yes, I'm sure politics might come into play if such a situation develops in a third country.


24th Sep 2001, 20:30
hmm... whatever about that lot the last place I'd hijack would be Russia. Those Alpha boys know their onions.

I remember a class incident where they got the hijackers and hostages to go on a bus. Approaching from the other direction came a cloth-side truck. Alpha soldiers went in through the windows and roof and overpowered the hijackers... scared me anyway :eek:

24th Sep 2001, 20:36
Seems many here are missing the point entirely---
Was this not an overreaction by the cabin crew in back? Have they never heard of the interphone? Back, back I say, to ground school!
Next they will want to grab ahold of the pole.
On second thought....

28th Sep 2001, 22:33
I notice Freighter Jock is saying shame on them but who wants to hijack at freight dog plane...very easy to say that when no-one will go near your plane Jock
Come back to us when you have a crew and pax in the back instead of some ULD's :D :cool: :D