An oil leak sent plumes of smoke through a Hawaiian Airlines passenger cabin, forcing an evacuation and hospitalizing seven passengers.
The incident occurred on Thursday morning aboard Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47, an A321neo from Oakland, California to Honolulu. Smoke filled the cabin on approach, prompting the captain to declare an emergency about 20 minutes prior to landing.
Although some passengers experienced trouble breathing, no oxygen masks were deployed. Hawaiian later said this was because the crew did not want to pump oxygen into a cabin at risk of fire. But that did not stop flight attendants from using masks as they handed out wet cloths for passengers to breathe through.
The aircraft landed without incident and all 184 passengers were evacuated via emergency exit slide directly onto the tarmac. Fire officials aided in the evacuation by pulling passengers off the slide.
Five adults and two children were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, but are projected to make a full recovery.
A Hawaiian spokesperson explained the cause of the smoke:
We have since determined that a seal failed in the aircraft’s left engine, causing oil to leak onto hot parts of the plane’s engine and air conditioning pressurization system, resulting in smoke in the cabin.
All passengers will receive a refund for this flight plus a voucher for future travel. That probably doesn’t make the smoke worthwhile, especially for those hospitalized, but it helps to soften the blow.