FIRE ON BOARD
Fire on board the plane is one of the most dangerous situations that can occur in any stage of flight. Once signs of smoke or fire appear on the aircraft, the crew has very little time to put it out before the situation gets out of control. When a controller receives a disstress message from the crew, he has to provide safe descent and landing at the nearest aerodrome. And to do so he must give the crew maximum information, including aircraft’s position, directions, meteorological and navigaional data.
22.08.1985 British Airtours Boeing-737-200, Manchester
During the takeoff phase, the crew heard a loud thump coming from underneath the plane.
Thinking a tyre had burst, they abandoned takeoff and activated the thrust reversers. Taking
care in applying gradual braking, the crew steered the plane onto a taxiway off to the right
of the runway and into a slight prevailing wind. As the plane stopped, the crew discovered that
the No. 1 engine was on fire. By this time, fuel spilling from the port wing combined with the light wind had fanned the fire into a giant blaze. Fire quickly found its way into the passenger cabin, releasing toxic smoke and causing the deaths of 53 passengers and two cabin crew, 48 of them from smoke
inhalation. 78 passengers and four crew escaped, with 15 people sustaining serious injuries. The incident raised serious air safety concerns relating to survivability, something that prior to 1985 had not been studied in such detail. The Civil Aviation Authority were criticised by some for not implementing stringent safety regulations earlier. The swift incursion of the fire into the fuselage and the layout of the aircraft impaired passengers\’ ability to evacuate, with areas such as the forward galley area becoming a particular bottleneck for escaping passengers. A large amount of dynamic research into evacuation and cabin and seating layouts was carried to try to measure what makes a good evacuation route. This work led to the seat layout adjacent to overwing exits being changed by mandate, and the examination of evacuation requirements relating to the design of galley areas.
02.09.1998 Swissair MD-11 over the Atlantic
After approximately one hour after daparture from New York the crew detected smoke in the cockpit, and the pilots began to consider diverting to a nearby airport for the purpose of a quick landing. Within 14 minutes of flight the aircraft had good chances to make a safe langing at Halifax, but the crew however
underestemeted the seriousness of the situation, starting long procedures of completing the check-lists and trying to dump fuel. The air traffic controller, who dealt with that aircraft criticised himself for not having persuaded the crew to land immediately. As the aircraft was reaching the fuel-dumping area, the fire from a short-cut in the 1st class passenger’s entertainment system spread quickly along the plane. Pilots had to face the open fire in the cockpit, loss of all electronic instruments on the panel. 5 minutes after the radio communication terminated MD11 crashed into the ocean leaving no possibilities to survive anyone on board.
01.01.2011, Kolavia Tupolev-154B in Surgut
As the aircraft was taxiing for take-off from Surgut, a fire developed in one of the engines and an emergency evacuation was ordered. However the rescue and fire teams failed to stop the fire and the aircraft was completely destroyed, killing 3 and injuring 43 people from smoke inhalation or burns. The investigation comission concluded the the reason for the fire was a short-cut in engine’s electric supply system.