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AA Emergency Evacuation at LAX

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AA Emergency Evacuation at LAX

Old 7th Aug 2008, 07:30
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I don't know why the masks dropped
Wouldn´t it be standard procedure to switch of bleed air from engines, if this is the likely cause for the smoke? Hence switching off the A/C packs and the cabin pressurisation, requiring to drop the masks?
Looks from the video that the pilot stopped really short, using lots of thrust reverser. Wouldn´t you limit engine power to minimum if you expect some problem with the engines? (Just thinking of the Manchester 737 accident)
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 07:47
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looks like it was one of the first B767 to have the new winglets
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 09:28
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I am quite familiar with santa barbara, which is why I did mention it.

going back to LAX was fine...but, if things were so bad that an evacuation on the runway using slides was needed, then why not land even sooner at one of three fields? 757's are often routinely landed on shorter runways, including orange county *KSNA. And in an emergency, why not?

Bubbers, whose posts I've respected in the past. In your smoke adventure, did you evacuate on the runway using slides?

I am very interested in this incident. I think there is more to things than meets the eye.

Landing at LAX was fine...if things had gotten much worse, a coupled approach/autoland might have saved the day if the cockpit became smoke filled. a coupled approach/autoland would not have been available at KSBA.

maybe the oxygen masks did deploy if the cabin went above 14,000'...but if there had been open flame, a bigger problem might have come about.

cutting off one pack and being at idle for a quick descent might not have provided enough air to keep the cabin below 14000.

if the flight had just returned to LAX, landed with traffic, and used stairs or jetway/jetbridge to get the pax off, the sense of urgency would have been less.

but to land wrong way, *within the rights of an emergency of course), and then to evacuate using slides risking injury raises questions about time critical situations.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 12:37
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Free Preview - WSJ.com

This article claims the flight attendants deployed the evacuation slides when the captain had planned to avoid using them.

If the link doesn't work, do a search for flight attendants under fire, Wall Street Journal, Aug 6, 2008.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 13:25
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the equation now becomes clearer


American Airlines Flight Attendants Under Fire

Some American Airlines flight attendants are under scrutiny from their
bosses for deciding, on their own, to deploy evacuation slides after a
jetliner with 194 people aboard made an emergency landing earlier this week
at Los Angeles International Airport, according to controllers, airport
officials and others familiar with the details.

The incident, which temporarily closed two of the airport's four runways and
generated nationwide TV coverage, also has prompted federal regulators to
take another look at evacuation rules and practices in such instances, and
how procedures may vary among carriers.

The Honolulu-bound jetliner returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday about an hour
after departure, because some of the 188 passengers reported smelling smoke
and seeing a haze in the cabin of the Boeing 757. News networks showed
extensive video clips of passengers sliding down inflatable chutes while the
aircraft was stopped in the middle of a runway, temporarily disrupting air
traffic during the morning rush.

The plane landed safely and there were no serious injuries. Fire crews and
federal investigators didn't find any evidence of smoke, fire or mechanical

American hasn't identified the pilots or flight attendants. But as
investigators from the company and the Federal Aviation Administration
continue to examine what happened, they are asking why one or more flight
attendants opened some doors and deployed slides -- without any command from
the captain.

On Wednesday an FAA spokeswoman said, "We're looking into all the issues
that have been raised." An airline spokesman said, "We are still gathering
information from our crew members to better understand the details of the
event" and their "decision to deploy the slides."

Unlike cabin crews at some other big airlines, American's flight attendants
have the authority to unilaterally deploy evacuation slides if they
determine there is a serious and imminent threat, according to industry and
government officials. But it's routine for them to first check with the

In this case, according to people familiar with the details, during the
emergency approach the captain didn't alert controllers or fire crews that
he planned to deploy the slides, something pilots are supposed to do if they
intend to evacuate the plane in that manner. Immediately after the Boeing
757 came to a stop -- and as firefighters rushed toward the jet -- the
captain walked toward the back of the cabin to discuss with the lead flight
attendant how the passengers would get off the aircraft. But before that
conversation took place, according to these people, the slides began

Pilots generally deploy the slides only in the most serious emergencies,
because such evacuations run the risk of injuring passengers. They also take
planes out of service, reflecting the extra time it takes to deal with the
slides. Despite estimates that reports of smoke or suspected fires result in
dozens of airliners making emergency landings across the U.S. every month,
it's rare to have emergency slides actually deployed. Even in Tuesday's
incident, some of the passengers left the aircraft using mobile stairs.

The evacuation received unusual media and FAA attention, because a bevy of
reporters, camera crews, news choppers and agency officials was on hand to
commemorate the planned arrival of the first Emirates Airlines Airbus A380
superjumbo jet to Los Angeles. The demonstration flight was put into a
holding pattern southwest of Los Angeles to accommodate the emergency, and a
planned salute by firefighters using water cannons was scrapped.

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Old 7th Aug 2008, 13:47
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Sevenstrokeroll, no, I taxiied rapidly to the gate and had the passengers deplane so fire personnel could check the cabin. I did set up for an autoland in case things deteriorated. An oven which was on the aux electrical bus which I immediately turned off was the source. After my incident it was changed from a checklist item to a memory item. If things had deteriorated we would have done an autoland and evacuated on the runway if necessary.

Interesting info on the captain not commanding the evacuation. My wife is a FA at AA so I know they can initiate an evacuation on their own if deemed necessary in an emergency. What if the captain had decided to taxi clear of the runway? As you said, there must be more to this event.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 15:02
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Quote from WSJ Article:

Immediately after the Boeing
757 came to a stop -- and as firefighters rushed toward the jet -- the
captain walked toward the back of the cabin to discuss with the lead flight
attendant how the passengers would get off the aircraft.

I find that a strange time to stroll out of the cockpit for a chat with the Cabin Crew.

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Old 7th Aug 2008, 15:25
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AAIB reports of crew after smoke exposures.

Is this a good time to remind everybody of how the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) have officially reported previous aircrew reactions to fume / smoke events?

Might there be any connection?

Apologies for the length, but it's just a random selection of UK events.

Meanwhile the AAIB believe that exposure can only cause 'irritation' - how right they are, but for the wrong reason.


Extracts from actual UK AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) reports.

• The pilot in command, following the onset of these fumes, had difficulty in concentrating on the operation of the aircraft, and suffered from a loss of situational awareness.

• …the crew had difficulty explaining the urgency of the situation (Aircraft diverted to Paris due to fumes and a smell of oil in the flight deck) to air traffic control.

• During the first flight the purser experienced an unpleasant feeling of fainting. She told the other two cabin crew members about this and they stated they had experienced something similar. They did not recognise any special odour.

• During the subsequent flight one of the cabin attendants who was placed in the forward part of the cabin experienced an odd pressure in the head, nasal itching and ear pain. The other two colleagues in the cabin also felt discomfort and the feeling of “moon walk” while working.

• The third flight the same day was flown by the Commander. During the flight, which took place at a cruising altitude of FL 280, all three members of the cabin crew experienced similar discomfort as during the preceding two flights but more pronounced. During the first portion of the flight the pilots did not notice anything abnormal but shortly before they were to leave cruising altitude the Commander began to feel a mild dizziness.

During the approach into Malmo/Sturup airport when the aircraft was descending through FL 150 the Co Pilot suddenly became nauseous and immediately donned his oxygen mask. Then, after an estimated period of ten seconds, the Commander also became very nauseous and immediately donned his oxygen mask. After a few seconds of breathing in the oxygen mask the Co Pilot felt better and thereafter had no difficulty in performing his duties. However the Commander felt markedly dizzy and groggy for a couple of minutes.
He had difficulty with physiological motor response, simultaneity and in focussing. Finally he handed over control to the Co Pilot. After having breathed oxygen for a few minutes even the Captain began to feel better and landing on Runway 27 without problems.

This incident was caused by the pilots becoming temporarily affected by probably polluted cabin air.

• All four cabin crew members reported feeling nauseous following passenger disembarkation, but they did not realise that they all had been similarly affected during the descent until the matter was discussed between themselves after landing. In addition to nausea, they reported feeling light headed and hot, but neither the flight crew nor passengers reportedly suffered any ill effects. The aircraft was reported to have had a history of such events and, despite satisfactory ground tests after this incident, similar symptoms were reported two days later by a different cabin crew when working in the forward galley.

• During the climb, the Senior Cabin Attendant (SCA) entered the flight deck to report that two passengers towards the left rear of the cabin had informed that they had noticed an oily/petrol like smell. In addition, a cabin crew member of a Company BAe 146 positioning crew had also reported a similar smell.

He (First Officer) sat in his seat but began to feel progressively worse, although his work load was low. He felt ‘light headed’ and had difficulty concentrating. He was aware of a tingling feeling in his finger tips and his arms started shaking.

At about this time the Commander also began to feel nauseous and asked the First Officer how he felt. The First Officer replied that he “felt dreadful” and the Commander looked at him and saw his face was white and that his pupils appeared dilated.

When she (SCA) arrived, the First Officer was on 100% oxygen, his seat was well back from the aircraft controls and his hands were seen to be trembling.

The Commander was feeling progressively worse. He felt light headed and recalled considering three aspects: landing, declaring an emergency and putting on his oxygen mask. However he felt able to cope only with one decision and continued his approach.

…the Commander seemed to have ‘double vision’ and had difficulty in judging height.

The Commander noted afterwards that it was all he could do just to land the aircraft as by now he felt very light headed and tired.

He (First Officer) did not consider that being on oxygen had made him feel better only after he had left the aircraft. However, he still felt as if he was in a daze.

• The crew noticed an “oily metallic” smell on the flight deck during an outbound flight from London Heathrow to Copenhagen. The same smell was noticed on the return flight. Towards the end of the flight, on approach to Heathrow, the crew missed numerous ATC calls, which prompted the controller to ask “if everything was all right”. In addition the Commander did not reduce aircraft speed to configure the aircraft for landing until reminded by the controller when the aircraft was at 3.7 nm DME (Distance Measuring Equipment). It was only after landing that the crew considered a possible link between the smell and their performance. When the smell was first detected, the crew had discussed the use of oxygen masks, but had concluded that there were no side effects to justify their use.

Subsequently, neither crewmember experienced any further symptoms or adverse effects.

• After parking on stand, both flight crewmembers experienced headaches and eye irritation.

• .….the Commander found it very difficult to concentrate on completing the fuel check and R/T tasks. He reported that his throat was dry, that his eyes felt irritated, that he had a headache and was generally aware that all was not well. The SCA reported that she also had a ‘very dry throat and eyes’ and the other crewmembers also had headaches.

• The Commander stated that, following the incident, he developed blisters inside his mouth, around his left inner cheek, on the roof of his mouth and left lower rear gum. He also had a tight chest, sore throat and suffered from coughing. The source of fumes was subsequently traced to No 3 engine, which was replaced on the following day.

• ……when fumes entered the flight deck and reportedly caused ‘dizziness and irritation to eyes’

However the problem recurred on 22 February 2001 when an oily smell was reported to have persisted on the flight deck for the duration of the flight, causing nose, and increasing throat irritation in both pilots.

• In addition to headaches, both pilots suffered from irritation to their mouths and nasal passages. An oily film was subsequently wiped off the flight deck CRT displays and passed to the operating Company’s engineering department for analysis.

• Both flight crew were left with a metallic taste in the mouth; the Commander also experienced a tingling sensation on his lips and a sore throat for several days. The First Officer was left with minor eye irritation.

• During the climb the Commander noticed a metallic taste coupled with an increasingly strong smell. The commander began to feel light headed and “un-coordinated”. The effects were still evident after landing with some reported errors of judgement and garbled speech.

• During the turnaround, the Commander alighted the aircraft in order to breathe fresh air but, after a short time, he suffered a head ache, itchy eyes, nausea and a bad taste in his mouth. The same crew then prepared the aircraft for return sector but, when engines number 3 and 4 were started, the Commander and the cabin staff felt increasingly unwell and as a result, the flight was cancelled. The aircraft was inspected in accordance with Service Bulletin ISB 21 – 150 but this did not reveal any oil contamination. However, following an air test it was found that engine No 4 and the APU were both the source of the fumes.

• The fumes reportedly affected two cabin staff and several passengers.

• The cabin manager felt overwhelmed by these fumes, and was on the verge of passing out, when her colleagues became aware of the situation and administered oxygen to her. After 10 minutes, the cabin manager recovered but was unable to resume her normal duties. Subsequent blood tests revealed that she had been exposed to higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide. (CO).

• The crew began to feel nauseous and so donned their oxygen masks, declared a PAN and returned to Heathrow where an uneventful landing was made.

• Then he started to feel dizzy and so donned his oxygen mask.

• The co pilot was limited in his capability of acting during the approach and landing due to the effects of fumes.

The medical examination of the co pilot after the flight showed that during the flight toxic exposure took place.

The medical examination of the Commander after flight did not show any results.

• They described it as a ‘burnt’ or ‘exhaust’ smell, but it was not accompanied by any visible smoke. Soon after, both crew members began to experience symptoms of tunnel vision, loss of balance and loss of feeling in the hands and lower arms. They immediately donned their oxygen masks, breathing 100% oxygen, which improved their condition noticeably.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 19:30
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bubbers 44:

thanks for telling us about your event. it sounds like you were ahead of the power curve with the aux bus move.

I didn't want to put a negative spin on this event. But something wasn't quite right.

We can all remember the valujet/everglade thing. Certainly flames are different than odor or smoke, but the ability to get her down, fast somewhere should be in the back of our minds as pilots. that is why I mentioned santa barbara, vandenberg AFB and point magu nas. When I flew out of Santa Barbara, TRACOR used to bring DC10's into the field to work on them.

landing against traffic means time critical, emergency to me.

evacuating on the runway means emergency to me.

we shall see how this all works out.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 19:38
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It sure is looking very strange, isn't it?. No doubt everything will become clear at some point. Fire onboard is my worst nightmare.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 20:57
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yes, it is looking a bit strange.

the concepts I want to address, someday are:

1. properly reporting what really happened, how the crew responded, how mx is involved etc.

2. a reminder to all of us to at least know where the nearest piece of pavement is if you have to get down NOW.

3. to make sure the cockpit decision making is based on safety and not just $ or convenience.

4. a reminder that automatic stuff can be helpful, but doesn't take the place of a sharp mind who can : aviate, navigate, communicate.

do you fly into SBA? I used to fly out of there many many moon ago with Pacific Coast/Apollo. One of our planes was used in the opening scenes of "Moonraker" (james bond).
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 01:34
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I have flown into SBA a few times. It is a fine airport and I would love to go there again. LAX handles emergencies on a daily basis. As a new captain at Aircal I had a bomb threat and had to evacuate my B737 at LAX with the slides, since no airstairs showed up when we parked in their bomb evacuation zone. They deal with these emergencies well. I would take the extra few minutes to land there and take advantage of their expertice.

My Miami landing was on 27L, now 27 because of the new runway. MIA has no CAT 3 autoland runways but in an emergency you can land on a normal CAT 1 runway if you deem it necessary. It seemed like a good back up in case cockpit visibility made it difficult to see on landing. It wasn't required so I disconnected everything on short final.

This all happened some time after Swissair 111 crashed near Halifax because of electrical fire. The new procedures for a 2 man crew were simplified to not require a flight engineer so I had modified my procedure a bit to move the first part of the checklist into memory items. Our company had not changed anything and I didn't want to go the way of Swissair using our check list.
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 01:52
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Looks from the video that the pilot stopped really short, using lots of thrust reverser. Wouldn´t you limit engine power to minimum if you expect some problem with the engines? (Just thinking of the Manchester 737 accident)
The quicker you stop, the quicker you get out. I'd hate to see the Captain taxiing off the runway or such whilst the PAX burned.

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Old 8th Aug 2008, 05:50
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Not that it has anything to do with this particular incident, but I always remind my pilot friends who fly out of LAX that there are two perfectly good US Navy runways out there: NALF San Clemente with 9000+ of runway, and NOLF San Nicholas, with 10000+.

Just something to keep in mind amongst all of the salt water when something goes to hell on departure...

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Old 8th Aug 2008, 09:03
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that is exactly the kind of thinking that seems to be going away in modern piloting. I applaud you for reminding us all about those runways.

Many years ago, a route check included all the pieces of pavements or open areas where you could put down if you had to.

There is a certain mindset in getting to an airport served by company mx. And if you can, that's great.

No one is saying to give up on LAX if you can safely make it. But, and this is the big thing, if your plane is on fire, down and out can be a damn good thing.

I wonder how this would have all played out if the plane would have been another hour farther out.

I've had cabin smoke. We isolated it to one pack and continued to destination on the remaining pack. (at a lower altitude). There was no doubt that it was a bit of oil burning or a bad "sock" for those who know what that is. Upon landing we discovered that plus a clamp had come loose on the ductwork.
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 03:25
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Smoke from engine oil leak

Been lurking a long time and finally had something to add which fits with speculation by L-38 above. On another board an AA AMT posted:
“Apparently one of the engines …starting leaking oil internally into it's compressor section and filled the cabin with a nasty OIL MIST. They are still trying to get all the oil out of the A/C packs and ducting, so the aircraft can be returned to service.

“Turbine engine oil is toxic. So making the passengers sit there and breathe it to save a few bucks on some emergency slides, makes it sound like they had a "bonehead" for a captain. It doesn't matter whether if it's a fire or oil mist, get the people out of there!”
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 12:50
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If the captain knew exactly what was causing the oily smoke he could have fixed the problem by shutting off the bleed from that engine. He had to evaluate what checklist to use. Electrical smoke unknown source is one which is different than environmental smoke coming from the ACM. He had to make a lot of decisions based on what he knew then, not on what maintenance found after the fact.

I know not everybody is going to agree with one course of action and I have dealt with flight attendants who have a different opinion about how to deal with a situation but that is why they have a captain to evaluate all the inputs and make a decision based on those inputs.
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 14:13
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If there had been a FE on board like the good old days then he could have really helped out by evaluating the consistency of the "smoke" !!
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 17:42
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Important to communicate with FA's

while I don't know what happened in this particular situation, I had cause to come back and land with a different sort of problem

I made it very clear to the FA's that an evacuation via slide was unlikely, but that if they didn't hear from us within 20 seconds after the wheels hit the ground, to come up and check and then , if we were unresponsive, to use their best judgement.
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 22:18
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Hmmm, it would seem that perhaps some additional training and a change of procedures are necessary for the AA cabin crew...least this happen again.

CC can be a valuable asset...other times, a distinct liability.
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