Confusion in smoke-filled plane put passengers at risk
Indecision and communication issues during an emergency on board an American Airlines flight put the lives of 161 passengers and nine crew members in jeopardy, but fortunately, there were no fatalities during the Oct. 28, 2017 episode.
That was one of the conclusions about the incident at Chicago O’Hare International Airport that was already released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Details about what caused the emergency will be revealed at a Jan. 23 meeting of the NTSB in Washington, D.C. – unless there’s a government shutdown.
While attempting a takeoff, the Boeing 767-300 experienced an uncontained failure of the right engine and came to a full stop about 9,255 feet from the runway threshold.
As flames began to shoot up from the right engine, filling the cabin with dense smoke, flight attendants waited for clearance from the pilots in the cockpit before opening the plane doors and initiating an evacuation – a delay that could have proved deadly.
Still without word from the pilots, the crew decided to open the doors and begin evacuating passengers, even though the plane's left engine was still running and emitting a powerful blast. According to the NTSB, it took at least a minute for the engine to be shut down entirely after the incident began.
All passengers and crew escaped with their lives. One passenger received serious injuries during the evacuation and the aircraft was substantially damaged by the fire.
At the upcoming meeting, the NTSB will reveal the probable cause of uncontained engine failure based on a lengthy investigation that included interviews with pilots, cabin crew and passengers aboard the flight, as well as data from flight data recorders, video and other sources.
The meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, District of Columbia.
WEBCAST: A link to a live webcast of the meeting will be available shortly before the start of the meeting at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/.
The accident investigation page, with links to previous news releases, reports and other information about the NTSB’s investigation, is available on our website at http://go.usa.gov/xN6bt. The preliminary report is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xn9VZ.
NOTE: In the case of a partial shutdown of the federal government, the NTSB says it will provide information about the status of this meeting and other NTSB activities on its Twitter feed @NTSB_Newsroom.