Easyjet A319 at Belfast on Jan 6th 2011, taxiway de-icing prompts evacuation

Last Update: May 21, 2012 / 15:05:46 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 6, 2011

Airline
Easyjet

Flight number
U2-615

Aircraft Registration
G-EZFI

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

An Easyjet Airbus A319-100, registration G-EZFI performing flight U2-615 from Liverpool,EN to Belfast International,NI (UK) with 46 passengers and 6 crew, had safely landed on Belfast's runway 25 and was vacating the runway via taxiway D when smoke of brown to black colour appeared throughout the cabin reducing visibility in the cabin combined with smell like electrical burning or bonfire and intensified. The flight crew stopped the aircraft and initiated the evacuation of the aircraft. One passenger received minor injuries in the evacuation.

The AAIB released their bulletin reporting taxiways and runways at Belfast had been treated with potassium acetate and urea during the day, this however had not been communicated to the crew.

The captain (39, ATPL, 8,408 hours total, 2,892 hours on type) was pilot flying, after touchdown on runway 25 the captain applied idle reverse. During the roll out the tower instructed the crew to continue roll to the end of the runway and vacate via taxiway D as runway 35 was temporarily blocked and asked to keep the speed up. The aircraft was thus the first to use taxiway D after some time. Idle Reverse remained selected while the aircraft turned onto taxiway D about 270 meters into the taxiway, the captain brough the thrust levers from idle revers to revers. At that time smoke of brown to black colour associated with a smell of electrical burning or bonfire had already begun to emanate from the overhead vents along the cabin prompting cabin crew to prepare to don their oxygen masks and goggles and to call the flight deck, where the first officer received the call. After advising the captain of the smoke reported in the cabin the captain also selected the service interphone on his audio panel and heard the next call by cabin crew suggesting they needed to evacuate as the smoke intensified.

The captain brought the aircraft to an abrupt stop, the captain ordered the evacuation checklist to be actioned, the first officer declared emergency and advised they were evacuating, however had not selected the radio on his audio panel so that this call was actually transmitted on the service interphone and did not reach air traffic control.

In the meantime the purser had instructed the passengers to unfasten their seat belts and get out, however, the purser did not engage the evacuation alert, cabin crew began to open the doors. Upon hearing the doors got opened the captain, concerned passengers might be endangered by the still running engines, shut both engines down causing both generators to drop offline which extinguished all lighting on the flight deck. Flight crew found it impossible to read the evacuation checklist that way, some of the items were carried out from memory and by touch, the fire handles were pulled and the fire agents discharged.

When tower called with further taxi instructions the captain advised they were evacuating. At this point tower became aware of the evacuation and alerted emergency services.

Doors 1L and 1R were opened, both slides deployed and the passengers slided down. Upon hearing the forward doors were opened the rear flight attendants donned their smoke hoods, opened doors 2L and 2R as well, slide 2L deployed but the flight attendant at 2R only saw pitch black and could not determine whether the slide had properly deployed. The flgiht attendant at 2R thus blocked door 2R and began to divert passengers to door 2L.

By the time emergency services arrived at the aircraft all occupants had already left the aircraft and the commander using a torch had called all passengers around him.

Emergency services entered the aircraft but were unable to establish any source of fire or heat using thermal imaging.

One female passenger reported back pain and bruises recalling a female passenger wearing her high heel shoes had pushed onto her while sliding down the chute.

The AAIB analysed that no faults were found on the aircraft. Both potassium acetate and urea were most probably the source of the smoke/fumes and most likely had been ingested by the engines during prolonged use of reverse thrust along taxiway D, passed through the air conditioning system and entereed the cabin through the overhead vents.

The AAIB highlighted that the cabin crew was in contact with the flight deck, there was no catastrophic situation requiring immediate evacuation, the engines were still running, so that the purser should have waited for the commander to initiate the evacuation. The AAIB also annotated cabin crew could have been more effective in communicating the smoke to the flight deck by using the emergency call to the flight deck rather than doing a normal call. The first officer's response "OKAY" to the reported smoke and "We need to evacuate" was ambiguous and could be interpreted as agreement with the proposal of evacuating.

As result of the evacuation and the sudden engine shutdown all lights extinguished on the flight deck, the right dome light however would have remained available to the flight crew but would have needed to manually selected on. The AAIB analysed that the sudden engine shutdown was appropriate and minimised the hazard to passengers.

The evacuation checklist would have properly configured the aircraft first and then required the shut down of the engines.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 6, 2011

Airline
Easyjet

Flight number
U2-615

Aircraft Registration
G-EZFI

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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