Emergency landing on BA in Houston

Aug 27th, 2004, 05:16 AM
  #1  
P_M
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Emergency landing on BA in Houston

If you are from the Houston area, you might have heard that British Airways made an emergency landing on Aug. 11 at IAH. I would like to share with you that experience, as the article in the Houston Chronicle did not give a very accurate account. At the same time I must commend BA and the Houston Fire Department for their great work.

On Aug. 11, I was to fly IAH/LGW/GVA. Our plane took off from Houston and immediately we heard an awful sound coming from the left engine. Later I learned that witnsses on the ground saw smoke coming out of the engine right as we took off. About 2 minutes into the flight the captain calmly announced that we had engine trouble and we were going back to Houston. About a minute later I began to smell smoke. Within the next several minutes the plane filled up with a white, hazy smoke that made me feel sick at my stomach. It was very hard to breathe, as I am asthmatic. The captain continued talking to us in calming tones and assuring us we will be landing immediately. He went on to apologize for the smoke and said if we can't breathe, put a hanky over your face or put your head down between your knees. I chose the latter, although I still felt sick.

I did not think of this at the time, but we had no time for a fuel dump, so the captain had the very challenging job of landing this plane safely with a full load of fuel. I remained curled up in a ball with my head between my knees until I felt the plane touch down. I then raised my head and the Fire Dept. was already spraying the engine with foam as we were still rolling to a stop. Once the plane stopped, 3 things happened at once: 1. The pilot announced, "This is an emergency situation, EVACUATE, EVACUATE, EVACUATE!!!!" 2. An alarm bell sounded 3. By the time the captain finished the order to evacuate, the flight attendants had opened the exit doors and the slides popped out. Then everyone ran to the doors and jumped on the slides. In the meantime, the Fire Dept. was still dousing the engine with foam, but some firemen were at the bottom of the slides helping to catch people. The slide was very steep and scary, and you go down it really fast, and of course, you land on the concrete runway. Thankfully a fireman caught me and I wasn't injured. In the end, some people had bumps and bruises from the slide, but nobody was badly hurt.

I must commend BA for their efforts. The flight attendants remianed calm and professional throughout. Once we were on the ground, several of us were crying (myself included) but they came around and hugged us and reminded us we are safe now. They took us into the airport lounge and made arrangements for either hotels or rebooking on a later flight. I went around to all of the flight attendants to personally commend them. One flight attendant said to me, "Well, I might have seemed calm, but I almost sh*t in my pants!!" I got a good laugh from that, and I was very impressed that although they must have been as afraid as we were, they still remained so cool and took charge.

Once we were safely on the ground,my first thought was to cancel my trip and drive back to Austin. But after I had some time to think about it, I decided to take the next plane and carry on. It was hard to get on another plane after this ordeal, but I was afraid that if I didn't fly again right away, I would never again. Once on the next plane, I was very afraid during take-off, but after that I was OK. And I did pretty well on the flight home.

Friends, the next time you fly, I beg of you to please listen to the safety instructions. Although this occurrence is rare, you never know when you will use this info. If you know a Houston firefighter, please give him/her a hug and them that all of us on BA 2024 say thanks. And if you know a BA employee who was on that plane, tell them it was a job very well done.

I will post a trip report soon, but I thought this deserves it's own thread. Happy and safe travels to all.
P_M is online now  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:21 AM
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Nice rundown - thanks for sharing your experience.
degas is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:44 AM
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Thanks so much for a articulate and detailed account. I hate to fly but somehow this was comforting.
yeadonite is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:47 AM
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ira
 
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Hi P_M

Thanks for sharing.

Kudos for carrying on.
ira is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through this and glad that you went through all of this just fine. You must be a very brave person.

Hope the rest of the trip went well!
111op is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 05:55 AM
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I replied on your thread on the US forum, but I guess I'll reply here, too.

That must have been a very frightening experience, PM. I'm glad however, that everything worked out and that you still went on your trip.

Thanks for sharing your experience for any of us who may be in a similar situation someday.

Kudos to BA and the Houston Fire Department, too!
Statia is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 06:00 AM
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I'm glad everything turned out ok. Do you remember what kind of a plane it was?

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Aug 27th, 2004, 06:07 AM
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P_M
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The plane was a 777.

I was going to only post this on the Europe forum, since most BA flyers visit this, but it was important to me that the message get to the Houston Fire Dept, so I posted it under US as well.

I hope and pray this never happens to any of you, but if it does, there is some comfort in knowing that when airline employees are trained properly, they can make a difference and even save lives.
P_M is online now  
Aug 27th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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That was an interesting post, PM, and I'm glad everyone came through it okay, and no one was seriously injured going out on the slides-as is often the case. I don't know what BA's procedures, but US mandated procedures for FAs is to tell pax to "run and jump-move away from the slide" to prevent injuries from pile-ups at the bottom. With an emergency evac. at IAH, however, you'd have airport emergency personnel assisting as you came off the slide.

And you make a critical point-whatever a/c you're on-you should pay attention to the safety demo., how to pull the mask towards you to start the flow of oxygen (deployment of oxygen in the aircraft cabin happens more frequently than one would initially think) and partic., make a mental note of how many seats away your seat is from the nearest emergency exit-front and back. If a cabin is hazy with smoke, you may have to feel your way forward or back.
Spygirl is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 06:51 AM
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What an experience, P_M! Thank goodness everything turned out so well.

And thank you for telling us of the very professional manner in which the BSA crew handled the emergency.

Byrd
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Aug 27th, 2004, 07:45 AM
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btw - "professional manner" says nothing about whether the FAs properly executed the emergency evacuation procedures for that partic. type of aircraft. After any emergency evac., there is a "lessons learned" type of de-briefing, to see what the FAs did or did not do, and what new procedures can be put in place, if any, by the airlines training dept to counter any problems. In most every emergency evac. that I know of (and I know of many) there are almost always procedures that were not followed-and in some instances, have led to serious injury or death of pax. These types of flight crew failures are incorporated into all flight crew training.
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Aug 27th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Very pleasing that in this day and age there was a happy ending to what could have been such a terrible incident.

The BA crew, as with all aircraft crews, are often known as 'trolley dollies' but this clearly shows just how important they are to everyone when we travel on their planes.
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Aug 27th, 2004, 11:13 AM
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P_M
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I forgot to mention that the oxygen masks never dropped. I kept thinking they would as it was so hard to breathe with the smoke. When we were on the ground I asked someone why we were not given oxygen, and they reminded me that oxygen is flammable so when there's a fire on board, they cannot bring in more oxygen. So God forbid if you ever find yourself in a smoky place, whether it's a plane or a house, be sure to put your head down as low as possible.
P_M is online now  
Aug 27th, 2004, 11:21 AM
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P M: I live in Houston and will be on B/A flight 2024 to London on Sept. 25. Your report is reassuring. I will phone the Houston fire deparment to complement them.
Gariem is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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P_M
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Thank you, Gariem!! I plan to send a letter myself, but I would appreciate your phone call. The firefighters cannot be told enough what heroes they are!!
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Aug 27th, 2004, 04:26 PM
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PM

Glad you are o.k. and very brave to carry right on with your plans. Your account has information that we all need to be reminded of. My husband always has a hanky and I will as well from now on.

Sandy
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Aug 27th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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P__M, thanks for the report on this incident. Glad everyone came through it safely. And good for you for getting back "in the saddle."

What went through my mind when reading was to wonder if there were any unaccompanied minors onboard. While bad enough for adults, a child alone in such a situation must have been terrified.
shellio is offline  
Aug 27th, 2004, 04:48 PM
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Hope you're having a terrific trip. What a way to start it though.#-o
Egads. Glad the BA crew came through.
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Aug 27th, 2004, 05:00 PM
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P_M:

Despite the fact that I fly over 100,000 miles a year, and have done so for the past seven years, I am one of those "terrified fliers". I am not afraid of terrorists activity, I am afraid of being involved in the incident you just described. Every time I take off, I wait for that awful noise that you heard.

Thanks for posting this experience with such clarity. I walked though it with you ? it was like a living nightmare. I am very grateful to your post, for two reasons:
- The flight staff, despite their own terror, acted professionally and competently during the process and at least made you feel that they were in control of the situation
- You had the bravery to get on the next flight. I am in awe of your bravery! This is something that I hope I could do if it ever happened to me. I pray to God, on every take-off, that I don't have to test my metal.

Well done P_M and thank you.

Best regards Ger
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Aug 27th, 2004, 05:16 PM
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Thank you for sharing your experience, I am very glad that your plane was able to land safely and I was pleased that you were able to continue on with your plans. Kudos to the crew on the plane and on the ground. I think you brought up a very good point - pay attention to the safety demo! Many of us fly a lot and probably tend to tune out the safety speech (even though we shouldn't), and Spygirl's tip about counting the seats to the exit was excellent advice.
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