In September 2015 British Airways flight BA2276, a 777 headed to London, caught fire during its takeoff roll at Las Vegas. An uncontained engine failure led to a fire and evacuation on the runway. Last week the NTSB released some of the raw data collected as part of the investigation, including summary notes from the interviews with flight deck crew (Document #8) and copies of statements from the cabin crew (Document #29).
The most interesting thing to me in reading the statements is that nearly every crew member seems to indicate the initial expectation was of a blown tire/tyre. That holds across the statements even though most of them had never experienced such before based on the statements. I also find it interesting that some of the flight deck crew interview notes specify October rather than September for the incident date; it definitely happened on 8 September 2015. BA’s crew scheduling for the trip is also interesting, with two of the three pilots involved flying in the day prior as “positioning” crew-members, coming in as passengers on the 7th and operating the flight back on the 8th. I’m not entirely sure why that’s needed from a crew rest perspective – they were on the ground a full 24 hours either way – but that’s what the report shows.
BA2276 Flight Crew Statements
From the flight deck details there are some intriguing notes about how the evacuation of BA2276 played out, especially with the third pilot (a reserve First Officer, RFO) present. During the incident he left the flight deck to see what was happening in the cabin and returned quickly after seeing the fire; his actions likely accelerated the evacuation process which is good news for everyone involved. It is also somewhat lucky in that training procedures do not include that person present for handling such emergencies. Notes from the interview of FO working the departure suggest “the third pilot interaction was unusual.” The Captain’s recollection of the RFO’s participation is summarized thusly:
He noticed a grey shadow from over his shoulder and at that time the RFO (P3) asked if he should go back to the cabin. The captain told him yes. He heard nothing from Air Traffic Control (ATC), which surprised him a little. When the RFO returned to the cockpit it was clear to the captain that they had a major incident and an evacuation would be necessary….They were not committed to evacuate for sure until the RFO returned to the cockpit and said the situation was dire.
The starboard engine was not immediately shut off during the emergency. It is unclear from the reports whose responsibility that is or why it was missed. Fortunately it did not contribute to any further issues during the evacuation but it is not supposed to happen that way.
The captain was asked to summarize his thoughts as to why the right engine continued to run 44 seconds after the evacuation command. He stated he just missed it.
It appears there was some confusion about the emergency checklists and whether they should be run from memory or from checklists. That procedure changed within the past few years and the crew appears to have done a bit of both based on the summary statements. Also mildly disconcerting is that the BA operations center didn’t know there was an incident with BA2276 until the FO called in after evacuating the aircraft, “FO Hillyer called the BA duty person to report the event. The duty person said he showed they were in the air.”
BA2276 Cabin Crew Statements
The tone of the statements from the BA2276 cabin crew is very different from those of the pilots. The cabin crew statements are also shared verbatim and hand written, not summarized. Nearly all of the cabin crew include a note at the end of their statement thanking the local emergency responders, for example. A couple of the statements also mention a rather long wait in the hot summer afternoon Las Vegas sun for the buses to arrive.
And a couple of the crew mention needing to request passengers to stop smoking while on the side of the runway following the evacuation.
One of the crewmembers notes that a passenger on board was “a nervous flyer, but he was reassured by me prior to take off.” That same flight attendant states that she sought out the man once on the ground to make sure he was okay; that’s a nice little sub-plot to the story.
Only two of the eight the exit slides on the 777 were able to be used during the evacuation. At 1L/2L/2R/3L the fire and smoke made the doors unusable. Crew at 2L/2R/3L did not open their doors; 1L did and approximately 5 passengers used the slide before crew noticed fire too close to it on the tarmac. At that point they redirected passengers to 1R. At 3R the slide did not properly inflate (and the flight attendant needed help from a passenger to get the door handle open). At door 4R the door opened and the slide deployed but it was unusable. The FA stationed there describes it as “pointing upwards…almost being whipped about by the wind and a high distance off the ground, maybe almost in line with the underside of the aircraft. It was totally unusable in that condition.
That left only two doors available to evacuate passengers from BA2276: 1R and 4L. Fortunately the light loads allowed for the safe evacuation of all passengers and crew with only scattered minor injuries.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.