Japan Airlines crew rescued 367 passengers from a burning airliner

In a recent incident at Tokyo’s airport, a collision occurred between a Japan Airlines passenger jet and a smaller plane on the runway. The crew swiftly sprang into action, ensuring the safety of all 367 passengers on board. It took them a total of 18 minutes to successfully evacuate everyone from the aircraft and account for their well-being.

Officials at Japan’s second-largest airline announced on Wednesday that crew members followed emergency procedures meticulously, as described by crew accounts. The crew began by implementing the first rule of panic control, demonstrating their adherence to standard protocol.

Upon the Airbus A350 wide-body jet coming to a halt, cabin attendants swiftly urged passengers to stay composed amidst the alarming sight of bright-orange flames consuming significant sections of the aircraft, causing the cabin to rapidly fill with smoke.

The crew swiftly assessed the situation by visually inspecting the exterior and determining which of the eight emergency exits were suitable for use. According to officials, they employed concise and straightforward instructions, as per their training. Examples of these commands included “abandon your luggage” and “do not use this door”.

Passengers interviewed at the airport late on Tuesday praised the effectiveness of the swift evacuation drill, which they believe played a crucial role in saving their lives.

“I heard an explosion approximately 10 minutes after all passengers had disembarked from the aircraft,” reported Tsubasa Sawada, a 28-year-old eyewitness.

“In a stroke of luck, a potentially fatal incident was narrowly avoided as a result of impeccable timing. The outcome could have been disastrous had there been even the slightest delay.”

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Evacuation chutes are an essential safety feature in emergency situations.

According to emergency protocol, it is required for the crew to obtain permission from the cockpit before opening any emergency exits.

The captain positioned himself near the two exits at the front of the vessel and authorised the commencement of the evacuation process.

Unfortunately, the third safe exit in the rear was unable to be cleared due to the malfunctioning public announcement and intercom systems. JAL has reported that the cabin crew made the appropriate call to open the door, enabling passengers to safely exit the aircraft using the evacuation chutes.

According to officials, cabin attendants undergo annual training on evacuation procedures, where they are exposed to different scenarios. These simulations include situations where they are unable to communicate with the cockpit.

Following a thorough check to ensure the safety of all passengers, the crew and pilots successfully completed the evacuation at 6:05 p.m. (0905 GMT), a mere 18 minutes after the aircraft had touched down.

JAL officials were uncertain about the duration of the process from the moment the aircraft came to a complete stop.

In just 90 seconds, something remarkable happened.

The recent crash involving the Airbus A350 has raised concerns as it marks the first major accident involving Europe’s renowned long-haul jet, which has been in service since 2015. This incident marks a significant milestone in aviation history, as it is the first instance of a passenger plane constructed primarily from lightweight carbon composites being completely consumed by fire.

The A350-900 has successfully obtained certification for its impressive evacuation capabilities. In the event of an emergency, this aircraft can efficiently evacuate up to 440 passengers within a remarkable timeframe of just 90 seconds, even with only half of its exits available for use.

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The exact duration of the evacuation process, including the time spent on physically guiding passengers down slides, remains unclear. However, safety experts have emphasised the importance of analysing interviews with passengers from around the world to inform and improve future evacuation protocols.

“The JAL cabin crew should be praised for their exemplary evacuation,” stated an Airbus spokesperson.

JAL officials have commended both the crew and passengers of flight 516 for their actions during an incident that occurred during the journey from Sapporo to Haneda airport. The crew diligently followed the necessary procedures, ensuring the safety of all on board. Additionally, the passengers, including eight pre-school children, deserve praise for their orderly exit from the full flight.

Aviation safety agencies have long been cautioning about the potential dangers of passengers attempting to retrieve their carry-on baggage during an evacuation.

“During a briefing for reporters, Noriyuki Aoki, senior vice president of general affairs, highlighted a common experience that many of us have encountered during flights. He mentioned how passengers are often asked to refrain from taking their carry-on items in the event of an emergency evacuation.”

“The evacuation was carried out meticulously, with full cooperation from the passengers, resulting in a swift and successful operation.”

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