Report Details Chaotic Scene During Fiery American Airlines Evacuation
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On October 28 last year, American Airlines flight 383 was departing Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) for Miami (MIA) when it suffered what’s known as an uncontained engine failure, caused by a weakness in the high-pressure turbine disk of the General Electric CF6 engine on the right side of the plane. The engine basically exploded and sent debris flying, piercing the plane’s wing, resulting in a catastrophic fuel fire which severely damaged the plane.
The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings from the incident a few days ago. The report is troublesome, describing passengers ignoring instructions from flight attendants, and passengers being knocked down by the hot exhaust from a jet engine that was left running briefly during the evacuation.
Within the report, at least three flight attendants testified that they encountered passengers who refused to leave their personal belongings behind on the plane as instructed. They ended up having to allow those passengers to evacuate with their stuff, rather than delaying the process and jeopardizing lives. Thankfully, only minor injuries occurred during the evacuation.
A piece of the engine went through the wing when the turbine disk failed. That piece went over the plane, and landed inside a UPS warehouse (Disk fragment A), about a quarter-mile away.
In hindsight, it’s fortunate the incident occurred while the plane was still on the runway. Had it happened a few seconds later with the plane in the air, the number of casualties/injuries would surely have been significantly higher, considering the damage to the wing. Much of the resulting fire happened due to spilled fuel from the pierced wing. The heat was so intense that the outer portion of the wing melted and fell limp to the ground.
The pilots brought the plane to a stop on the runway, about 30 seconds after the engine failure. But for unknown reasons, they did not immediately shut off the remaining functioning engine. The NTSB report says passengers were attempting to evacuate, but the flight attendants aboard the plane had to hold them back, because of the running engine. On one side, the engine and ground were on fire, but the other side was equally dangerous due to the running engine.
Evacuation slides were deployed on the non-fiery side of the plane, but the hot exhaust from the running engine blew the aft slides backward, delaying the evacuation even more. Once the cabin began filling with smoke, flight attendants had no choice but to let passengers egress, bags and all. Some passengers reported being knocked down and/or burned by the engine exhaust. However, those injuries pale in comparison to what could have happened.
Thankfully, everyone aboard flight 383 survived in spite of the oddities of the evacuation and the passengers who insisted on evacuating with their own belongings. It would be great if airlines could lock down the overhead bins during evacuation. At least one manufacturer (Zodiac Aerospace) is working on that function, but we haven’t seen this capability implemented yet.
Featured image by @CaptPuneetNagi on Twitter.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees