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Glasgow airport incident: Passengers describe panic during plane emergency

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  • by CRAIG BROWN
 

FIVE people were taken to hospital and a further 15 were treated at the scene after an emergency situation on board a Jet2 plane led to the evacuation of all 189 passengers at Glasgow Airport.

• 189 passengers on board aircraft evacuated via emergency chutes

• 20 people reported to have sustained injuries; five have been taken to hospital

• Flights were diverted to Edinburgh Airport

Passengers on an Alicante-bound flight from Glasgow have described their terror and panic as the pilot was forced to make an emergency stop after the cabin began filling with smoke.

A total of 20 people were injured during the evacuation of the plane, with five taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The Jet2 737 carrying 189 passengers had been travelling at approximately 90mph and approaching take off at 7:40am, when what was described as “swirling” smoke began to fill the cabin.

The pilot slammed on the brakes, bringing the plane to a juddering halt, and over the cabin loudspeaker ordered passengers and staff to evacuate

immediately.

Passengers described chaotic scenes as staff attempted to direct them out of the plane.

Jean Walker said: “It was terrifying. We were about to take off and the plane started shuddering and there were lights flashing and smoke. The crew started shouting ‘get out, get out’.

“We were sitting at the wing, and the girl opened the door and we went out on the wing but there wasn’t a chute there.

“There were about eight or ten of us on the wing and I was saying people couldn’t come out because there was no chute.

“Two girls jumped off the wing on to the ground, they were OK.

“Other people got hurt coming down the chutes, they were inflated but the hostesses were just shouting ‘jump, jump’ and people were just banging into each other at the bottom and about four people were taken to hospital.”

Her husband Gordon added: “The stewardesses were panicking and shouting at people to go one way, then the other.

“It all happened really quick and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Passengers said they could smell smoke as the plane accelerated.

Graham Divers said he had seen smoke “swirling” in the cabin lights.

He said: “We were accelerating very, very hard down the runway at this stage, and I was about to scream out to the cabin crew when obviously the pilot realised there was something wrong and he immediately throttled the engines back and put the brakes on.

“It’s the hardest braking I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Mobile phone footage of the evacuation showed a chaotic scene, with the doors on the plane flung open and an alarm sounding, while passengers screamed and cried as others attempted to help them escape down a chute. One man can be heard saying he thought the smoke had come from the plane’s tyres.

Fire and ambulance crews were called to the scene and the airport closed until 10am, resulting in 14 flights being delayed, seven cancellations and four in-bound flights being diverted.

The passengers of the affected plane were offered seats on a replacement flight that departed yesterday afternoon.

Following the incident, Jet2’s managing director Ian Doubtfire flew up from the airline’s headquarters in Leeds to assess the situation.

He said: “I came up here and went straight to talk to the crew, who I think did a fantastic job in reacting very quickly and evacuating the aeroplane.

“The requirement for all airlines is that you have to evacuate the aeroplane within 90 seconds. To do that you have to be very quick, and the crew training – which all the crews have to go through, they know how to use the chutes and know how to get passengers on to them quickly – involves shouting to make sure people realise that it’s very urgent that they leave quickly. So shouting is very normal in an evacuation”

Referring to the injuries sustained by passengers, Mr Doubtfire said it was “not uncommon” for people to be hurt when using the chutes to evacuate.

He added that a team of experts from Jet2 would be examining the plane, but that they were treating the incident as a “one off”.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Cabin crew are trained to be very proactive, shout, push people out, so if that’s what happened, that’s good. For the passengers, it’s a situation in which you are likely to panic.

“Just because a cabin crew member is shouting and pushing you out a door doesn’t mean they’re panicking, they’re just doing their job. Basically, the most important thing in an evacuation is to get people off the plane.”

Last night, an Air Accident Investigation team began examining the cause of the smoke. A spokesman said that it would be looking at “all aspects” of the incident and that a report would be published.

Aviation writer Jim Ferguson said it was too early to determine the cause of the smoke, but suggested that oil or hydraulic fluid may have got into the air conditioning.

He said: “Once the oil heats up it creates smoke and fumes, which can be toxic. Of course, it shouldn’t happen, but it does occasionally, perhaps two or three times a year in the UK.

JET2 TRAVELS

JET2 is one of the country’s biggest budget airlines, flying from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and six other UK hubs.

It has 43 aircraft, flying to 54 destinations, with more than 30,000 flights per year, covered by 424 pilots and 624 members of cabin crew.

The airline declined to say how much either pilots or cabin crew are paid.

In March, it announced 60 jobs as part of a doubling of routes from Glasgow Airport to 16 ahead of the summer season.

The new routes included Barcelona, Rome, and Lanzarote in the Canaries.

Earlier this month, it announced it was creating a further 50 jobs by basing a fourth plane at Glasgow.

New routes next summer will include Murcia in Spain, Pula in Croatia, and Menorca.

However, yesterday’s evacuation was the second time in a matter of months Jet2 has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

In July, an 11-year-old boy who had run away from his mother boarded a plane to Rome on his own without a ticket.

Despite having no passport or boarding pass, he evaded several checks at Manchester Airport without raising suspicion.

Jet2 staff only discovered they had a stowaway when fellow passengers on flight LS791 realised he was unsupervised.

“Passengers can rest assured that this is an isolated incident and at no time was there any safety risk,” a spokeswoman said at the time.

 

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