L2018-04 Airliner Evacuation due to Smoke in the Cabin at Helsinki Airport on 3 August, 2018

On 3 August 2018 Czech Airlines flight OK481 was about to depart Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The flight was operated with an Airbus A319-112 airliner. There were 135 passengers and five crewmembers on board. As the aircraft was taxiing towards the runway, passengers and cabin attendants detected smoke inside the cabin. The purser reported this to the captain by interphone, who then stopped the aircraft on the taxiway. A moment later the purser asked the captain for permission to evacuate the aircraft.

The smoke was caused by the seizing of the ACM.

Owing to the suddenness of the situation, and the pressure to evacuate the aircraft rapidly, the captain tried to act quickly and failed to complete the procedures in the order of the evacuation checklist. To begin with, the captain activated the evacuation signal even though the engines were still running.

The cabin crew initiated the evacuation. The captain did not make an evacuation announcement and, therefore, not everyone recognised what the evacuation signal meant. Some passengers thought that it was a normal deplaning. During the evacuation some passengers rushed past slower-moving passengers and children were trampled over. Also, the carry-on luggage that some passengers took along slowed down the evacuation.

The evacuation was done using emergency slides at four cabin doors. In the beginning of the evacuation the engines were still running, which put the first passengers who deplaned through the front doors in danger of being ingested into a running engine. It was not possible to use the emergency slides at the rear doors while the engines were still running. During the evacuation 26 passengers sustained minor injuries. Their injuries were mild, caused by the congestion in the aisle and from using the emergency slides.

The investigation also revealed that Helsinki-Vantaa Airport did not have effective procedures in place for providing unhindered access to an accident site for rescue units, ambulances and police patrols on the manoeuvring area.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that:

• The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ensure that operators, in their procedures and training, take into account the situation where evacuation is initiated without waiting for the captain’s command.

• The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ensure that Airbus S.A.S., in their emergency evacuation procedures, re-evaluate the situation where it becomes necessary to immediately shut down the engines.

• The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency ensure that Helsinki-Vantaa Airport develops effective procedures that guarantee unhindered access for authorities in charge of, and participating in, rescue operations to an accident site on the manoeuvring area.

L2018-04 Investigation report (pdf, 0.88 Mt)

Published 19.6.2019