View Full Version : Spirit A320 RTO due to engine fire. Views from the cabin

Check Airman
3rd Oct 2021, 16:28
Courtesy of Avherald


Plane Speaker
4th Oct 2021, 08:12
Fan blade separation will give the FAA/EASA something to think about in a hurry.

Lord Bracken
4th Oct 2021, 13:40

Any comments on the Evacuation call? Hardly clear, or emphatic. Whatever happened to "This is the captain. This is an emergency. Evacuate evacuate! Left / right side only."

You can have a chat with the pax about what caused it once you're all on the tarmac.

Veruka Salt
4th Oct 2021, 18:36
Better not to say left/right as causes confusion, particularly for aft-facing cabin crew. Recent Airbus amendment removed left/right from evacuation order for this reason.

What is it with folk taking hand luggage & filming the entire episode! Cabin crew need to be much more assertive.

5th Oct 2021, 08:54
Everything must be filmed or it didn’t happen, recording the event is more important than surviving it for this generation !

5th Oct 2021, 13:08
What's the certification time for an evac? 90 seconds?

5th Oct 2021, 14:29

Daft it may seem but it does give useful information and can be learned from.

5th Oct 2021, 14:45
The certification requirements provide a standard for the design of aircraft; a comparative measurement based on a minimum time; aircraft configuration, seats, flight attendants, number of (operating) doors, a range of passengers, and conducted at night.

The use of these requirements for operational approval can overlook the essential need for crews’ understanding of procedures and priorities - ability to adapt to each unique, surprising situations, which will not be the same as used for certification. i.e. passengers will not behave as demonstrated in certification; in the real world crews have to intervene, encourage, etc.
Operational assessments (nor accident investigations) should not be judged by timing, which is often detrimental to necessary understanding required for safe operation; safety first, can procedures be better applied, what more can be learnt.

“There's nowt so queer as folk”; regulators, operational assessors, investigators, downwards; poor old cabin crew at the bottom layer facing reality, have to manage an ‘unmanageable’ situation involving real passengers.
Work as done is never as imagined; regulations have limited, constrained imagination.

The outcome of this event was safe; well done the crew. What can others in industry learn from this event, how, and then apply this without regulatory intervention.

5th Oct 2021, 17:17

IIRC Certification requires a demonstration that everyone on board can be evacuated in 90 seconds using half of the aircraft emercency exits.
The fact that it takes longer in reality is due to human factors as safetypee says.
I was witness to a certification evacuation test that required 3 attempts to get it right and that was with fit young people.

6th Oct 2021, 07:58

Risking your life taking even a few extra seconds to film rather than evacuate from a burning aircraft as quickly as possible is daft indeed

John Marsh
6th Oct 2021, 10:28

After an evacuation either for certification or in an actual emergency, are any crew or passenger interviews conducted?

Capn Bloggs
6th Oct 2021, 10:43
Landscape video (and the end) at last! :ok:

Dave Gittins
6th Oct 2021, 12:13
What in hell were they hanging around for ? Read the accident report for the Airtours at Manchester and then watch me go.

6th Oct 2021, 14:23
John, re passenger interviews; I don't know.

Accident investigation can request a wide range of information. I have seen one report which related seat position and outcome based on crew and passenger interview, but this involved crash impact survivability and subsequent human behaviour, unrelated to a commanded evacuation.

The certification events (FAR/CS 25) which I witnessed (in the dark), filmed the event for documented evidence, passengers wore ‘illuminated’ identity vests so as to match seat location, exit used, and time to escape. Interviews, if any, were associated with the safety aspects of the test set up.

A good source of information on seat vs escape vs time, interviews, etc, is in the research by late Helen Muir of Cranfield university. (See link 2 @ #15)

Three operational approval tests (FAR 121) were witnessed; these were not conducted iaw with certification requirements, and some in particular were ‘jump through the hoop’ exercises for the regulators benefit, with little practical relevance, apart from using a meaningless timed tick box. The ‘passengers’ were all company employees who were not about to rock the boat - anyway there was pay, and free food and drink.

Incentive to escape is influenced by perceived threat and crew assertiveness.It will be interesting to understand what the flight deck commands and cabin crew actions were in this incident (#3). If they follow the gist of the reported tower communication “roll the trucks”, then.

6th Oct 2021, 14:55
For the traveling public

Also other links, particularly
case studies, research, etc

6th Oct 2021, 15:21
Better not to say left/right as causes confusion, particularly for aft-facing cabin crew. Recent Airbus amendment removed left/right from evacuation order for this reason.

Many operators use the phrase "all available/useable doors" for this reason

6th Oct 2021, 15:23
Whatever happened to "This is the captain. This is an emergency. Evacuate evacuate! Left / right side only."

They literally said that exact phrase, given the amount of carrying on in the cabin it was pretty clear, probably as much as you're going to hear it in that circumstance

7th Oct 2021, 03:56
The video is valuable documentation of real world pax behavior however disappointing it may be to us and the regulators - who may be disconcerted by this real world behavior.

The certification standard is everybody evacuated in 90 seconds using half the exits.

In the video, I don't see any movement towards the exits for a full two minutes. Observe that this affords many pax the opportunity and temptation to pull stuff out of the overhead bins.

Observe also that "Remain Seated" admonitions were largely ignored. Survival instinct prevails.

Kudos to the fire crew who got the fire under control and helped catch pax at the bottom of at least one slide.

​​​Cabin security needs to be a top item in a post RTO checklist. In this case we were lucky. The next time a fire breaches the cabin in under two minutes, we won't be so lucky.

7th Oct 2021, 07:29
Dave Gittins

Exactly. We do not need a repeat of British Airtours disaster in Manchester - and this one looks strikingly similar (slow evacuation, hesitation). Luckily, no strong wind to fan the fire towards fuselage and fire itself died out/extinguished in time. If not......

Lord Bracken
7th Oct 2021, 10:44

I think you need to watch the video again. The first communication from the flight deck is at 01:30, with (presumably) the Captain saying "Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. The right hand engine has caught on fire...we hit a bird on take off. Please, er, avoid the right hand engine."

7th Oct 2021, 13:58
From the first video, people are standing up and the plane is still rolling down the runway. As the crew goes through the checklist the plane comes to a stop, the speed brakes are retracted and when the engine is shutdown the fire goes out. It looks like the fire was caused by the liberated blade striking an air-oil cooler in the coldstream. There is no fire warning protection in this area.

The evacuation was announced after the engine was shut down.

7th Oct 2021, 14:05
Here's an idea. Automatic central-locking of all the overheads during takeoff and landing..

hans brinker
7th Oct 2021, 14:26
Yes, because passengers blocking the flow of traffic from standing there for 5 minutes unsuccessfully trying to open the bins is going to help. And they won't know they are locked because they didn't listen to the announcements.

7th Oct 2021, 14:56
Why was there the delay? Is it that long to shut down the engines, perhaps that long to spool down?

The need to evacuate _seems_ clear. Keeping on board with flames under a wing/engine seems like a not-so-good plan, or at least one that seems likely to lead to panic among close-by passengers.

I do recall the debate on a similar incident on a wide-body somewheres in asia recently, i.e. that maybe fuel spill spreads under airplane means neither side is safe. So need to make sure, but surely that has to be based on what can be easily seen -- you can't wait 2 minutes for fire trucks to get a better view. As pointed out: Airtours or PW (or was it CP) in Calgary.

Instead of telling people to sit down, a not-so-convincing command in that situation, maybe tell them to get ready and remind them to leave everything behind, can get it later. The sit command, to me, leads to mistrust -- and as someone pointed out: fetching suitcases from overheads.

7th Oct 2021, 16:05
Never going to happen.

7th Oct 2021, 16:22
Beware quick solutions - central bin locks.

First are bags really a problem; most likely in comparison to the design assumptions - people blocking the isle recovering bags, opposed to exiting with bags in aircraft with modern larger escape exits.

To some passengers locked bins would be seen as a challenge, need lever them open, carry a jemmy! (No, that would be a security issue). But people would still try; a greater isle blocking delay than in retrieving the bags (humans over focus on solving a problem - bins will not open, than changing the course of action - get out of the aircraft)
Other people would place bags under the seat before landing, perhaps a more significant obstacle of unsecured debris and cluttering the isle. More work and responsibility (hassle) for the cabin crew in enforcing ‘bags in bins’.

Every solution is an opportunity for a new problem; beware what we wish for.
Tech failure of bin locks before loading, MEL, …

Ban on-board bags ……… competitive, revenue, money before safety.
Minimise the need to evacuate; modern aircraft are more reliable, stronger structure, better fire containment - more time (but dont depend on it).

An observation; modern ‘plastic’ aircraft appear not to catch fire as easily as older types, but when they do burn, at a later time, the cabin structure seems to be more damaged. Toronto A340, SFO 777, Dubai 777.

7th Oct 2021, 17:37
I don't think A340s and B777 are "Plastic", fuselage and wings are still metal with only things like flying controls, stabilizers and fairings being composite.

7th Oct 2021, 20:25

I always tough why that is not implemented…

Also jail punishment to whom ever deliberately doesn’t follow the commands or is hindering the evacuation like the one recording, the idiots taking stuff or people blocking the slide…

Less Hair
8th Oct 2021, 08:39
There should be permanent cabin announcements about what the passengers are expected to do including reminding them to NOT take any carry on stuff or open bins. With visible flames people will be close to panic anyway and might initiate an evacuation themselves with unpredictable outcome if not instructed otherwise.

8th Oct 2021, 10:32
Sorry, but it’s not “their” fault! It’s our fault as an industry.

we fly around with full cabins and almost empty baggage holds because we have made it more expensive to check a suitcase in than it costs the passenger for their actual seat! Whereas once the shelf above the head was for the placement of Chapeau’s and other fine millinery. It later evolved into a horizontal cupboard for the stuffed donkey to accompany the Sombrero and later for industrial strength fabric closets for a complete backpacking adventure across the globe!

On top of this we bombard the passenger with a constant stream of menacing messages about keeping their baggage with them at all times less we will destroy it and bring about much wrath! Don’t forget! Don’t let it out of your sight! Societal evolution and the messages that we impart mean that their perception of their very existence is either in their hand or stuffed in those cases above their heads.

I am not sure why then we are so surprised when every evacuation video (helpfully videotaped) shows the passengers fighting to save their loved things with as much verve and vigour as they might save their children (perhaps more so!) I don’t recall many old film reels of passengers banging on the baggage holds to repossess a weeks worth of dirty underwear after fleeing down the slide! It’s the industry that needs to evolve because the passengers already have!

8th Oct 2021, 14:22
It’s the human condition, safety culture, passenger reaction.
Fines for errant passengers can be countered by legal argument after the event.
During an event, there is a personal balance of perceived risk - humans are naturally risk takers. The value of the bags (at this moment) is more than a defensible fine.
“Danger of Death” or $1000 fine, psychologically illogical messages, but often used in ‘blame and train’, litigious rule based culture, a belief that human performance can be controlled.

An alternative situation, as promoted by many cabin crew, involves when to change behaviour - ‘when the fire is too hot, smoke too thick, water too deep’: its a personal judgement, in this case the passenger.
Safety assessments might consider this aspect. There may be little or no evidence of death directly due to cabin bags (historical risk), vs perceive likelihood of death from a known hazard, a subjective fear (projected risk).

The issue starts way back. Regulators allow more carry-on bags, commercial demand - what were the safety assessments based on at that time. Grandfather rights again; also note recommendation 22 in RAeS report - bags.
If evidence from recent events warrants reassessment of the safety case, then solutions might consider restricting number of passengers on board, revised requirements for timed evacuations with pax and bags, changing the aircraft design; all with commercial implications.

So the question is not ‘what is the risk’, but who holds that risk; regulator, operator, passenger. Passing responsibility downwards to the passenger (sloping shoulders) is an easy, and commercially attractive option with minimal regulatory action; but is this ‘safe’.
Ask the passengers, but they don't want to pay higher fares; so they take the risk - ‘it wont happen to me’, or if it does ‘I will know what to do’, until the fire is too hot … … smoke …

Meaningful change is unlikely without a very public major accident; cf Manchester 737. A sad sorry state for future safety thinking in a very safe industry, but we were warned, see work by R. Amalberti ‘The paradox of ultra-safe systems’.

Fursty Ferret
11th Oct 2021, 08:01
Because there's a decision-making process to be made, which requires information to be gathered and considered. It's not like a car where you pull over into a convenient layby and get out to call for a tow-truck.

If you evacuate the aircraft, passengers will be injured, whether just by going down the slides / hit by airport vehicles / hit by hand luggage thrown by other passengers / cold / hot / wet environment etc etc. Even with very serious problems, quite often the safest place to be is on board the aircraft. Once the evacuation is initiated, it cannot be stopped.

Secondly, the evacuation command is not given until the very last line of the evacuation checklist, which also takes some time to run as it has to be done methodically, and likely requires another pause and considered decision before actioning the evacuation signal at the end.

11th Oct 2021, 14:31
There's a certification standard to evacuate pax within 90 seconds using half the exits.

What's missing is a certification standard for post RTO checklists to monitor the fire situation and recognize when it's about to breach the cabin 90 seconds before that happens.

Any firefighter will tell you that fire behavior is highly unpredictable. The only certification test is for tire fires post RTO.

​​​​​​Cabin staff have a much better view of the situation and should be able to let the flight crew know when evacuation is required immediately.

Checklists need to provide for minimal delay of evacuations initiated from the cabin.