Passengers on a Jet2holidays flight preparing for takeoff at Glasgow Airport were thrown into panic when they were forced to evacuate the aircraft, which became filled with smoke suddenly. The evacuation prevented at least 12 other flights from taking off from the airport, while several arriving services were diverted to Edinburgh Airport. At least 20 crew and passengers were injured in the chaos – five of which were taken to hospital.
The incident happened on a Friday service to Alicante at 7:40am, forcing the Jet2holidays pilot to abort his takeoff. One of the 189 passengers filmed the panic, which showed several people sliding down the inflatable emergency chutes. The footage reveals the sounds of the aircraft’s alarms and some people screaming. The passenger filming the video can be heard saying that the situation was crazy and telling others to be careful as they slide down the chute.
Several of the injured people got hurt when they were leaving the aircraft, and Jet2holidays admitted that some of them may have knocked into each other while going down the chutes. A Scottish Ambulance Service spokeswoman said that they removed four casualties and took them to Royal Alexandra Hospital. A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police said that they were dealing with an ongoing incident that involved a B737 at Glasgow Airport which reported smoke in the cabin. Emergency services were attending the scene and passengers were evacuated to be safe. One elderly woman suffered a minor injury while exiting the aircraft, and inquiries are ongoing.
Jet2holidays managing director Ian Doubtfire left his office in Leeds to talk with staff in Glasgow and help deal with the situation. He said that smoke was seen in the plane during the early part of takeoff, and the cabin crew notified the captain, prompting him to stop the departure. He’s had extensive talks with the crew about what happened, and they tell him that the exit from the aircraft was textbook. Obviously there’s thorough training for such an incident, and they say the evacuation was conducted within the necessary time constraints, as it needs to be done quickly when smoke is involved.
Doubtfire added that injuries during evacuation on the chutes are common. It’s possible to become injured when the evacuation is carried out fast. People often stop at the bottom of the chute, allowing others behind them collide into them. However, all the chutes operated as they should, and the evacuation was done according to procedure. The passengers were still able to travel to Alicante later in the day, and most of them said that they still wanted to go. The airline arranged for a plane to pick them up in the afternoon, which would be ready to leave about 3pm.
Bosses at Glasgow Airport said the runway had to be closed during the incident. The flight to Alicante was forced to conduct an emergency stop on the runway just before it took off due to smoke in the cabin. All of the 189 passenger on board disembarked, and the airport had to suspend flights for more than two hours until the runway could be reopened. This caused delays, and passengers were advised to check with their carriers on the status of their flights.