Passengers on an Air China flight to Los Angeles were serenaded with a wonderful warning: “Drop everything! Evacuate immediately! The plane will explode!”
On Monday, Air China flight 983, operated by a Boeing 777, took off from Beijing toward Los Angeles at 9:13 PM. As the aircraft flew over eastern Russia, suddenly warning alarms sounded in the cockpit. A fire had been detected in the cargo hold. Pilots opted to land the plane, choosing Anadyr, Russia’s eastern-most town.
The aircraft landed at 2:55 A.M. and passengers were quickly rushed off with a flight attendant yelling the warning above as slides deployed. It was a cool -4ºF (-20ºC) outside…
All 188 passengers were taken inside the terminal where most sat waiting for Air China to send a replacement aircraft. Food, drinks, and medical care were provided, though no injuries were reported.
As for the fire, it turns out it was a big false alarm. In a statement apologizing for the mishap, Air China said:
Examinations after landing showed the cargo compartment was in normal condition and there was no sign of fire. We therefore came to an initial conclusion that the alarm was triggered due to malfunction.
Ok, so false alarm and no injuries. Why write about it? Because of that warning. Maybe it was meant to ensure people would not take their carry-on bags out (many still did), but it just seems to me that such a response would cause more panic and actually retard rather than hasten the evacuation.
And I don’t mean to second guess the pilots here, but wouldn’t a sudden and unexpected fire alarm warrant investigation before a diversion?
Again, I’m just glad everyone was okay. But please folks, in case of an emergency, leave all carry-on bags behind. I’m warning myself as well…
image: Aleksandr Markin / Creative Commons 2.0