View Full Version : QANTAS B747 evacuation

2nd Jul 2003, 14:39
The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that an QANTAS B747 (QF6 from FRA via SIN) was evacuated, following a normal landing and taxi to stand, when an engineer advised the Flight Deck crew there appereard to be smoke coming from the MLG area. The report mentions 5 people were injured during the evacuation, and that an airport spokesman said it appeared that one of the slides may have malfunctioned.

2nd Jul 2003, 23:55
Looks like a later report in the Melbourn Herald Sun:


Five injured in aircraft emergency

STILETTO heels may have punctured two evacuation chutes, causing five passengers to tumble on to the tarmac as they abandoned a Qantas jumbo jet yesterday.

The jet's brakes caught fire as it landed in Sydney early yesterday, forcing the captain to order an emergency evacuation of the 347 passengers.
But passengers said they were not told to remove their shoes before sliding down the emergency chute.

Two chutes collapsed, spilling travellers 3m to the ground.

Injuries included friction burns, grazes and a bumped head.

Passenger Gordon Garratley, 51, a NSW Central Coast businessman, said he saw one of the chutes collapse under the terrified travellers.

"There was about two or three people coming down and it collapsed in the middle, so they would have had a fall of probably 10 feet," he said.

Mr Garratley said the drama unfolded very quickly.

"No one said 'Take shoes off' or anything like that. It was just straight down the chute. There was a lot of panic," he said.

Qantas executive general manager of aircraft operations David Forsyth confirmed that two emergency chutes had collapsed. He said stiletto heels could puncture the chutes.

"Obviously not all of them will necessarily work the way you want them to," he said.

"That's why we usually ask passengers to remove stiletto heels in an emergency evacuation.

"It could be something like that. It could be that something dislodged from a person's clothing -- who knows? It could have just folded badly when it hit the tarmac."

The plane was taxiing to the terminal when a ground engineer noticed smoke coming from one of the brakes.

Passenger Princzie Dekrauwe, 75, said the crew screamed at everyone to "get out".

"It was terrifying landing on the concrete. That was the worst experience I have ever had," Mrs Dekrauwe said.

3rd Jul 2003, 00:02
If it was pax not removing stiletto heels - then no one should be surprised. I would lay a bet that even if you DID tell the pax at the point of evacuation - that many would not hear it.

Not necessarily because they are deliberately not listening but they have no expectation of anything going wrong. When it does, they are mentally destablised to a significant degree.

They also had the misfortune for this to occur at the end of an extremely long haul flight. Many folks will have been onboard for close on 24 hours and not be thinking straight anyway.

3rd Jul 2003, 00:11
Every flight I have been on I have been told during the pre-flight saftey brief that shoes are to be removed if the chutes are to be used. Don't people pay attention?


3rd Jul 2003, 04:46
Dufwer: Don't people pay attention?No. Many pax are stupid or can't understand what's being said. Many of the rest are so stressed or terrified just about flying that nothing sinks in. All of this is compounded by the soothing tones that airlines use for the safety briefings. They could punctuate the briefing with phrases like "Do this, or you might needlessly kill yourself." It would bring home how important it is that pax pay attention and remember what they're told, but then they'll go away wrongly thinking that planes crash like crazy all the time.

3rd Jul 2003, 06:15
Perhaps stilletto heels should be banned on security grounds - if they puncture evacuation chutes they could be used as weapons.

3rd Jul 2003, 10:27
Was this a knee-jerk reaction following the Bangkok debacle? (Runway over-run and no evacuation)........Often a small hydraulic weep onto a warm/hot brake pack will result in a little white smoke/fuming. This is very different from a brake fire, and if the correct info had been passed to the pilot, then he might have elected to use steps. A brake can't 'burn' (unless it's on a Shuttle that's breaking up), it can overheat and cause a fire in the wheel (very dangerous, 'cos magnesium involved) or in other combustible materials/fluids adjacent to the brake. Certainly, we must evacuate for a wheel fire, but ground personnel entrusted with communicating to the pilot should know what they are seeing, and should clearly tell the pilot if they are seeing smoke OR flames OR both, and whether it is getting better/worse. Then he/she can make an informed decision about evacuation options.

3rd Jul 2003, 15:45
Chosun I agree. Ban the stilettos (and all cabin bags) and there would be alot less hassle. Would have thought a closer inspection before ordering an evacuation would be sensible. Can't blame the Captain. What else could he do if someone on the outside was squawking Fire Fire? :ooh:

ou Trek dronkie
3rd Jul 2003, 15:55
"Ban all cabin bags" - for the poor souls faced with a 24 hour flight ?

Just think about it for a few seconds.

Maybe you would like to anaesthetise the pax as well and feed them intravenously ?

Obviously you have never flown far.

3rd Jul 2003, 16:15
Surely the crew noticed the brake temp. warnings after landing. Even if the landing were normal, brakes can get hot especially if a long taxi is involved or maybe they pulled up a bit sharpish to make the nearest runway exit.
But then the guy on the headset is or should be qualified enough to distinguish between hot brakes and a brake/wheel well fire, if he/she squarks fire on the headset, would you wait.
I'm not an expert on escape slide construction, but I did think they were compartmenalised to prevent rapid deflation.

Wot No Engines
3rd Jul 2003, 16:25
It was also being reported in Sydney that this was as a result of anti-noise regulations banning the use of reverse thrust after landing.

3rd Jul 2003, 16:28
Noise procedures, no reverse thrust? Minimal and idle only perhaps. Haven't read that in the notams but still, why no brake temp. indications to the crew.

Dan Winterland
3rd Jul 2003, 18:01
Reverse thrust is of little significance in the normal operation of a pax 744. The carbon brakes work more efficiently when warmed up to a certain degree so reverse thrust is seldom used. Also, I suspect that QANTAS like most 744 operators specify the use of autobrake - which at any setting other than max will deccelerate the aircraft at a set rate so that the use of revers thrust will just release the brakes a bit while the reversers do their stuff.

The crew should have had brake temp indications - they are standard on the 744 and you have to brake very hard to get them in the amber section which is nowhere near the danger zone. They were posiibly concerned that the engineer had reported smoke with no abnormal temperature indications - which would get most pilots thinking laterally.

Bob Brown
3rd Jul 2003, 20:06
No one said 'Take shoes off'

So there was no pre-flight safty demo and no one was told to read teh emergency instruction card in the seat pocket.

Sounds more like 'I panicked and forgot, but it was not my fault as no-one checked'.

3rd Jul 2003, 20:36
Looking at the photo of the deflated chute - If I remember rightly, during the mid 1980s, some airlines wanted to seal that emergency exit (BA unsealed the exit after a big outcry).

I heard on the grapevine that the chute out of that exit is not always reliable to inflate properly.

3rd Jul 2003, 23:08
Dan Winterland says: "Reverse thrust is of little significance in the normal operation of a pax 744."

Boeing does not endorse nor recommend QF's technique of precluding the use of reverse thrust, irrespective of high energy carbon brakes. OF had been strongly criticised for this procedure during the BKK accident investigation.

4th Jul 2003, 01:09
I very much doubt anyone was wearing 'stiletto' heels, but it does make for a nice headline :* The point is nonetheless valid, any hard-soled footwear can puncture the slide.

I obviously must not fly on any of your airlines, as I cannot remember the last time (if ever) that land evacuation procedures were mentioned in the pre-flight safety demo. Likewise the brace/emergency landing position. I think they are on the the safety card, but when did you last see anyone reading that ?

4th Jul 2003, 01:10
As a Cabin Crew member for 12 years now,I'm starting tio get awere that PAX(with flying beeing more common now),do pay less and less attention to the safety demo's done either by the Crew or by film..I don't remember last time I saw a Grown-up Pax having a proper look at the safety leaflet.
So I'm not schoked at all with what happened with the Quantas aircraft shutes.

At the Airline I fly for(and all the others around the world I'm sure)...we do make Pax remove theyr "stilleto's" only if we are going to have a prepared emergency landing with high probalities of an vacuation.The situation that happened with the Quantas cabin crew is tottaly diferent.

-Told to evacuate...with probably an alert of fire...so what they did(and well)...is to get those PAX out of the Aircraft as fast as they could(there is no time to ask pax to remove shoes at an evacuation like that).

It all comes down to the Pax lack of interest and attention to basic safety procedures that are allways shown to them.

4th Jul 2003, 01:43
Speaking only as SLF - I expect certain things of you and equally you expect certain things of me.

I ALWAYS pay attention to the safety briefing and I always read the card, as I am VERY interested in my survival but I do accept that flight has its risks just as driving in the crowded SE of England has. Let's face it, the concept of "landing" on the sea and us all sailing off safely in inflatable life-rafts is a tad optimistic surely? Maybe not, but I'll certainly go for it if the option is there.

However. if you have a KNOWN problem with a safety device I expect it to be sorted out - not ignored. Any known chute problem not resolved is unforgiveable as we put our trust in you. I've made it to 50 without anything more than severe turbulence scaring the sh1t out of me so far - let's hope it stays that way...

Le Pen
4th Jul 2003, 02:49
alangirvan...... BA operated our classic 747's with the door 3 sealed till they were taken out of srevice.

EAL have usealed the door on the ones that they have taken.



Dan Winterland
4th Jul 2003, 07:10
Glueball, I'm not advocating the precluding the use of reverse thrust, but I do satnd by my statement that it is not normally required on a pax jet. I only ever used it once on the 744 - in training. If you use it againt autobrakes at any setting other than max, the landing distance is the same but you make less noise and induce less engine wear. And Goodrich state that the wear on your carbon brakes would be the same had you not used it.

If Qantas procedures preclude the use regardless against Boeing's advice, that is a different matter. The airline I used to fly 744s for suggested reverser use was usually not usually required and we always checked LDR against LDA for the planned autobrake setting. However, use was at the crew's discretion.

I never flew the 744 into BKK, but now fly 747 Classics into there. On a hot day, the end of those runways seem to come up very quickly!

4th Jul 2003, 10:36
Qantas does try to get everyones attention by adding "you very rarely have the same seat on each flight ,so pay attention to where the exit doors are and count the number of seats to it".Must admit i dont pay attention because most times you have enough time to go through it again. ie emergency landing.Sure ,if it comes to grief during a normal landing ,then a problem occurs,but i for one (wrong as it is) am quite happy when it touches down.
It always looks good on safety evacuation films ,but in real life people react like its a bargain sale at a big department store when the doors open.
Also carbon fibre brakes like getting hot and small flames are part of the deal(racing car brakes quite often on fire when pitting and they dont panic or try and put out----its a characteristic).
If there not beiing fed by another source(broken brake line etc) they are normal.
I wouldnt be surprised if at the end of touch down most planes breaks are producing small flames ,but in 99% of cases have gone out by the time they reach the terminal.

Ground crew reports minor fire,says its harmless ,pilot recomends evacuation-----its his call and in most cases its be damned if he does and damned if he doesnt..
Myself ,i would have said pee on it ,but in the world today of pass the buck and litergation etc ,maybe hes one up on most of us.

4th Jul 2003, 10:43
Glueball when landing at SYD airport during the curfew shoulder period, the airport and government requirement is idle reverse unless there are other conditions to be taken into account. (emergency or runway condition). That is a requirement for all airlines.
Being that 34L is used on these occasions, there is not not normally a problem as the runway is about 4000m long with the terminal at the other end. I've seen on other large types the ground speed decay to 30-40kts with idle reverse and the autobrakes dissarmed after touchdown, the brake temps only got to 1 or 2 indication.

4th Jul 2003, 10:52
Is it just me, or do others find the QF briefing video pretty appalling?

Done a fair bit of QF paxing lately, and I cringe when I hear the safety video (and yes I do look/listen). It starts off OK ("do you know where the neaerest exit is?"), then deteriorates (all those "check procedures"). Starts off provocative by asking questions, by the end it sounds like someone reading a flight manual. Can't remember if it even mentions shoe removal on evacuation...

Waste Gate
4th Jul 2003, 13:07

I used to fly -400s for QANTAS, admittedly only as an S/O, so I'll try and clarify the idle reverse policy.

Firstly, Flap25/idle reverse landings were discarded after the BKK incident. Yes, I agree that it was not an approved or recommended Boeing procedure. As Dan Winterland alludes, the wear characteristics of carbon brakes are such that they actually benefit from being worked hard by autobrakes during landing. That was part of the company's reasoning for adopting the Flap25/idle reverse policy. Autobrake is used for all landings.

After the BKK incident, the company produced a flow chart for inclusion in the QRH. It specifies that Flap30 be used for all landings on wet runways. As I'm no longer on the aircraft I can't tell you whether Flap30 is also used for all landings on dry runways as well, but when I left the aircraft 2 yrs ago, no one was using Flap25 for landing.

Now regarding idle reverse. SYD has a curfew between 11:00pm and 6:00am. There is a quota of arrivals allowed between 5 and 6:00am, and from memory BA, CX, UAL and QANTAS land 400s during that period. As RaTa said, it is a requirement to use idle reverse during the shoulder period, unless airmanship dictates otherwise, in which case a report has to submitted etc etc. That applies to any noise abatement procedure.

I would be very surprised if the use of idle reverse had any impact on this incident. I would also be surprised if the crew cooked the brakes when after disconnecting the autobrake, but I'll leave that to the investigators. . .

As for the crew evacuating prematurely. . . put yourselves in this situation. You've just arrived at the gate. Ground Engineer plugs in, gives "thumbs up" to the aerobridge driver to connect. Notices smoke coming from the brakes. Sees flames. Tells crew, asks them to put beacon back on, check brake temps on EICAS. Seeing beacon, aerobridge retreats, loaders remain clear of aircraft. It's dark and wet outside, being 5:20am in winter, so unlikely cabin crew can bring any information of value to crew, so Capt's first inclination is to do a precautionary disemarkation using slides (yes QANTAS does them, one step back from an evacuation. One of very few airlines that does). But, Ground Engineer is the best source of info, he has mentioned "flames", and is most knowledgeable about the aircraft's systems.

So what do you do, stuff around waiting for information which may only confirm what you've already been told, while reducing the time remaining to get everyone off, even if via a precautionary disembarkation, or do you take
the safe, conservative option and evacuate the aircraft. Bound to be some injuries for sure, but everyone lives - and that is the name of the game.


4th Jul 2003, 16:46

Flew QF domestic today and the pre-flight safety briefing flashes up 'Remove High Heeled Shoes' when talking about evacuation - can't comment on International briefings?

I too am just SLF, but mostly thanks to many years of lurking here, I always pay attention to the briefing ( and force anyone accompanying me to as well by ignoring them and watching the flight attendant). There are serveral reasons for this;

1. To act as an example for the rest of the passengers
2. To save my skin
3. To save everyone elses skin
4. So if God forbid, there is ever an incident and the media is involved, I can stand behind all the people they interview and call out 'Yes they DID tell you that in the briefing', or 'no YOU are wrong', or 'Well you ARE alive arn't you?' . ;)

All the crews who keep us alive, thanks, just keep on doing what you are doing. The silent majority appreciate it - sometimes enough to even comment.


(edited coz I kahnt spel)

4th Jul 2003, 17:22
Also speaking as SLF, I think you need to be realistic about what people can take in during a briefing or reading a safety card. Anything that feels like an emergency to passengers is going to make them very anxious and it is simply wrong to think that we will all recall what we have been told - even if we have listened to every word and studied the safety card. Most people don't know what an emergency slide is and looking at a cartoon on a safety card ain't going to tell them. If learning worked like this we would all read books about driving cars and then just jump in and drive off. In any kind of extreme situation I would expect the only people to be thinking clearly would be professional cabin crew who have been exposed to he consequences of an evacuation in training. If you seriously expect us passengers to have any real idea what to do you would have to do a drill, and that isn't going to happen.

4th Jul 2003, 17:52
I can only agree with my fellow pax that the majority of folk are just not going to remember the drill.

When (as pax) you have:-
1) Just completed a FRA ~ SYD, poss 22 hours on board?
2) It is early morning outside
3) You are zonked from lack of sleep and cramped sitting.
4) You know that in a few minutes you will be out of the machine.
5) NOW they want me to jump down a slide????

None of them will be thinking straight. Good wishes to the Cap who was thinking straight. (OK, he will have been on board for less time but has been working very much harder!)

If this event leads to a better understanding of carbon break wear and tear - then we shall all have benefitted.

Flight Detent
4th Jul 2003, 17:55
Hi all,
Forgive, I'm still confused, did the ground engineer report "smoking brakes" or "burning brakes" to the captain?

All I have seen was smoking brakes, in which case an emergency evacuation is not really required!

I think it should have been done as a 'precautionary' egress, since the event was not really that much of an emergency, if the brakes were not actually burning!!

Smoking brakes are not all that unusual, really!


4th Jul 2003, 22:10
Info on the Oz forum suggests the conversation went "We've got a brake fire down here". "Confirm there's a fire?" "Confirmed."
Evac commenced.

Second guessing should be left to the accountants.
As far as I am concerned, I would prefer to jump down 100 slides 'just in case', than get cooked alive on that 'it'll be ok' occasion.

5th Jul 2003, 01:12
A bit of background to this incident so we don't lose the plot with punctured slides, etc.
For those not familiar with SYD and its esteemed ATC, there is a ban on landing before 0500L and curfew between 0500 and 0600 meaning that only nominated flights may land before 0600 and only on 34L.
On this occasion, a colleague of mine was inbound to SYD at the same time as our QF boy and with a 15+kn southerly wind being reported, slowed down and arranged his flight to land at 0600 or after so he could have 16R. Apparently, our QF boy bored on, approached and landed on 34L with a 15kn tailwind (or whatever it was at the time) on a wet runway and cooked the brakes (because you can't use reverse at that time either for noise reasons. If you do, you're supposed to submit some stupidarsed report about why you did it - likewise for a go-around!) Result - hot brakes when parked and you know the rest.
What this incident really illustrates is that SYD ATC is just an accident waiting to happen. Before I went there for the first time in '94 I naively assumed that ATC was there to smooth the flow of traffic and assist pilots in their task of getting the aeroplane safely on the ground at their patch. Not so with SYD! They construct hoops for us to jump through at every available opportunity and make life in general as difficult as possible while in their tender care. They may be hamstrung by noise regulations imposed by politicians but they make no effort whatsoever to blur the edges in the interests of safety.
UK ATC - magic. Sydney ATC - crap.

5th Jul 2003, 03:41
Had to create an identity for that drivel, did you? What a coward!!

If the ATC is so crap, why do you listen to them? Why not just ignore them and do your own thing?

Oh, that's right, ...........you're just following the rules.

A bit like the controllers?

Yes, the Sydney noise rules have to be some of the most ridiculous in the world, but they are laid down by pollies . Hopefully incidents such as this will bring the situation to the attention of the public, which is the only hope for change.

I bet you announce delays caused by congestion as "ATC delays".

ps. How many of your companies SOPs have you "bent" lately? Real professional.

5th Jul 2003, 06:19

Wet Rw, 15 kts of tailwind. Don't have a dig at ATC mate. That is pretty poor airmanship.

5th Jul 2003, 09:54
You mean, you would never go near the aircrafts performance limitations? Why not set the limitations for crosswind or tailwind all 10 knots lower, in fact why not make all runways just a giant field like old days with taildraggers then you can always land into wind!!!! ????

Thats crap LUFTY, people takeoff at max crosswind on wet windy days - and yes maybe you avoid a landing with a downwind component if you can (and if conditions are not ideal) however Sydney airports runway is ample in length for a Jumbo at idle with tailwind - and Jumbo's have been landing there with tailwinds for yonks.

5th Jul 2003, 15:53
You will find the final outcome as a small grease fire(apparently wrong grease) spotted by a "new" ground engineer.
As for the rest ,watch the comedy shows.

6th Jul 2003, 22:34

some facts:
- noise abatement and curfew requirements at YSSY restrict landings to 34L btn 1100-0600 local.
- there is a limited number (5 I think) of slots where heavies can land btn 0500-0600 local: usually QF and BA, occasionally UAL and SIA take advantage of this,
- on this occasion the downwind 34L was 15kts, runway wet, both notified on ATIS (first advice to pilot)
- idle reverse is maximum permitted at that time
- I guess you know how long the runway is
- on this occasion down wind of 15kts was given to pilot on first contact with tower and again with landing clearance
- aircraft landed at 0511 local
- aircraft vacated runway, ops normal, at taxiway Golf and taxied to bay 33, International terminal
- taxiing in the pilot advised the tower that the downwind was 18kts on final dropping off to 11kts crossing the threshold. (this is often requested by SY TWR to provide extra info to following landings, particularly in weather conditions like that morning)
- at 0518 the aircraft was parked on bay when the pilot called MAYDAY on ground frequency.
- the evacuation of the aircraft has been well covered here and in other forums.
- at 0519 a full emergency was declared by SY tower, fortunately there was no further arriving traffic at that time and the fire services were very quick to respond.

(this puts the lie to QANTAS's first attempt at spin on the incident: ATC forced the aircraft to land with downwind and didn't provide accurate wind info)

FYI, a week earlier, in similar weather conditions, when the same flight was offered a roll through, the captain rejected the ATC offer and, with heavy braking, vacated at the first available rapid exit taxiway (A3). The pilot followed this up with a "how dare you tell me what to do" email to Sydney ATC.

The very next day another QF 744, same arrival, same time, called for fire service assistance due overheating brakes!

As ferris says, the whole noise thing is politically driven and if you think that's unsafe, you should see what we have to do to ensure LTOP measures up to the pollies expectations!

9th Jul 2003, 09:19
Speaking as SUF (self unloading freight) I usually pay a deal of attention to the brief and look around all the doors too. One seems to notice mortality more as one gets older.

One thing is for sure: 90% of us are going to forget all we have been told, even 90% of what we listened carefully to, in an emergency. The only thing that allows you to think clearly in an emergency is practice and repetition.

When I used to have a sailuing boat every time we went out we did a practice man overboard. After a while the whole family got the hang of it, Daughter to stear, wife to watch the dunker, eldest son to throw the float and line. Believe me even at the slow rate yachts do things and in the good conditions we practised in it must have taken ten or fifteen goes before I reckined I had any chance of being picked up at ll if I was the the MOB.

So how on earth do you expect people frightened out of their wits, possibly in dark and smoke, to remember what you told them once?

I was sitting on an A330 last week, listening and checking the doors and it occurred to me that without a practice drill the aisles were likely to get hopelessly congested. Are you supposed to step into the aisle by nearest seats, everybody in 'B' and 'j' first and march forward/back or are you supposed to go out by rows?Will the guy in 23J stand and wait while the whole of row 22 sidles out of their seats. I have never seen it demonstrated, not even in the video, so how are we supposed to know?

It may be a bit far fetched but if you really want to improve safety during an incident you should qualify the passenger, we should all take a course in a/c evacuation before we can fly. Now there's an idea.

I know the crew have to practice with volunteer SLF, I would be fascinated to know how well it goes, and what techniques if any they are taught for the orderly management of people who don't know whether they are coming or going or whether this door or that is actually nearest.

10th Jul 2003, 02:32
Since people cannot board in an orderly manner when seats are not allocated (a la Easyjet) what hope is there when flames and smoke are motivating pax in the reverse direction?

When our sprogs were of a manageable size, my wife and I had a prepared plan in the event of an emergency which applied to any situation such as plane, hovercraft, ferry etc. That was, grab your allocated sprog and go for it, not waiting for spouse at all.

Now they're huge, our plan is each to his/her own. It has to be the best way - have a plan and execute it. After all, how many pruners have ever tried a simple fire alarm/drill at home? (You of course have smoke alarms don't you?)

10th Jul 2003, 07:54
Since people cannot board in an orderly manner when seats are not allocated (a la Easyjet) what hope is there when flames and smoke are motivating pax in the reverse direction?

When our sprogs were of a manageable size, my wife and I had a prepared plan in the event of an emergency which applied to any situation such as plane, hovercraft, ferry etc. That was, grab your allocated sprog and go for it, not waiting for spouse at all.

Now they're huge, our plan is each to his/her own. It has to be the best way - have a plan and execute it. After all, how many pruners have ever tried a simple fire alarm/drill at home? (You of course have smoke alarms don't you?)

For those of us who are furiners and not familiar with the word sprog
the above makes for difficult reading with all sorts of imaginative things crossing my mind like parts of one's anatomy.

Perhaps somebody could help me out of such ignorance.

10th Jul 2003, 08:01
I'll hazard a logical guess - sprog = child.

11th Jul 2003, 00:20
Sorry about the confusion - I must admit I thought that sprog was wider known than presumably it is. It means "child".

For future reference, have a look at http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/ where a lot of slang is defined. Unfortunately despite being British through and through, a lot of the expressions on there are totally unknown to me, so I wouldn't use it as an English primer.

Incidentally, the word furiner threw me for a moment...

Following on from this query though, exactly how many pax leave the plane (in a hurry or otherwise) without parts of their anatomy?