When a Boeing 737 evacuation doesn’t go so well

SAS 737-600.jpg

I posted recently about the evacuation of the Boeing 737 that effectively exploded in Japan and how how a well-executed operation contributed mightily to everyone living to tell the tale. Coincidentally comes news of a 737 evacuation that didn’t go nearly as well, although ended happily.



This report covers an incident with a SAS 737-600(the short one) which experienced sufficient evidence of a possibleon-board fire to ensure the pilots landed immediately and evacuated theaircraft.

However, none of the doors and slides on one side of the aircraftoperated. The investigators worked out the technical reason why not,but at time of writing a fix was still being developed. As they point out, in other circumstances this could have been much more serious.

It reminds me of the A380 evacuation trialfor certification that I took part in – on that occasion EASA and theFAA had disabled all the doors on one side, unbeknown to us inside. Thecertification rules require that half the doors be disabled, althoughnot necessarily all one one side.

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3 Responses to When a Boeing 737 evacuation doesn’t go so well

  1. Ben Kolbeck September 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

    wow… that could have been very nasty. Imagine if that had happened on, say, the Air Canada DC-9 that caught fire and had to make an emergency landing? Or the BA 737-200 accident at Manchester?

  2. pundit September 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Re the A380 evacuation trial: I wonder whether single-side door disablement was for the benefit of recording cameras – and therefore whether more-cynical observers could have divined that in advance. I’m aware that evacuees’ approach to the trial aircraft likely is required to be screened, so perhaps not? Just a thought…

  3. Kieran Daly April 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Good point. There’s no question that having all the doors on one side disabled makes the exercise easier to conduct.

    One key point is that evacuees really could not see either side of the aircraft at all. You’ll have to take my word for it I guess, but there were ceiling to floor curtains on the side they entered, and the view under the aircraft was completely blocked – by stacked cardboard boxes if I recall correctly.

    I’m trying to think whether if I did the trial again I would be able to guess what was going on. Certainly I would suspect (maybe wrongly) that it would be all the doors on one side that were disabled. And actually I think I could guess which side – but in fairness to the regulators I’m not going to say how.

    But perhaps the most important point is that even if a small number of evacuees guessed correctly – I don’t think it would greatly affect the result on a widebody at least because the vast majority of people would not know.

    Finally, in the A380 case at least, it was the flight attendants who got the door first – and really that should always happen, certainly in a drill situation – so the issue would be whether they guessed correctly or not. Perhaps they do, perhaps they don’t.

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