Aeroflot Disaster Demonstrates the Importance of Aircraft Evacuation Procedures
“On May 5, an Aeroflot (SU) Sukhoi Superjet 100 SSJ 100 operating Flight SU-1492 caught fire during a hard landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), killing at least 41 of the 78 people onboard. The aircraft was bound for Murmansk Airport (MMK) but returned to SVO shortly after takeoff. The causes of the accident and subsequent fire are still under investigation, but the accident highlights how crucial it is for passengers to prepare for evacuations and listen to flight attendants when one occurs” –WorldAware
Tragically, only 37 of the 78 passengers aboard Flight SU-1492 were able to safely evacuate. According to the airline, everyone who survived the disaster escaped the airplane within a minute of it coming to a stop. Many survivors have credited the flight attendants with helping them get to safety. Russian media reports that have not been confirmed state that some passengers delayed the evacuation by trying to retrieve their luggage from overhead bins.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that an airliner evacuation occurs an average of once every 11 days in the United States alone. Although most are not nearly as severe as that on Flight SU-1492, passengers can increase their chances of emerging from an evacuation unharmed by taking a few simple steps before, during, and after evacuating an aircraft (Information from WorldAware).
- When boarding an aircraft, passengers should count the number of rows between their seat and the closest exit; knowing this information can be invaluable during an evacuation, especially if the cabin lights go out or the cabin fills with smoke.
- Knowing where the next-closest exit is can be equally important because the exit closest to a passenger can become blocked or unable to be used during an emergency.
- Passengers should always listen to the pre-flight safety demonstration regardless of how redundant it may seem; it contains valuable lessons from previous incidents that can help save lives.
- Always listen to flight attendants during an evacuation: They are trained to keep passengers safe in an emergency, and following their instructions will almost certainly increase a passenger’s chances of evacuating without harm.
- Passengers should typically not open exits unless they are ordered to do so by a flight attendant because doing so can cause water or smoke to enter the cabin.
- Under no circumstances should a passenger ever stop to retrieve luggage during an evacuation; there is nothing in an overhead bin more valuable than the lives of the people trying to escape the aircraft.
- In fiery accidents, smoke inhalation is usually the main cause of death for passengers. If the cabin is filled with smoke, holding a damp cloth over the nose and mouth can help protect passengers against the poisonous gases found in smoke from airliner fires.
- Smoke and heat from fires are also often less intense near the floor of the cabin, so staying low can slightly alleviate those threats.
- The cabin floor has automatic lighting to show where the exits are. A damp cloth and staying low will not provide protection for a long period of time, but can give passengers a few extra seconds to safely evacuate.
- The area surrounding an airliner in distress is often overrun with emergency crews and vehicles driving at high speed.
- Explosions from burning aircrafts are also a threat; passengers who can still run should get away from the aircraft as quickly as possible and follow all directions from flight attendants and emergency responders.
The devastating events of Aeroflot Flight 1492 prove just how crucial it is to follow aircraft evacuation instructions. Click here to read the full article.