Passengers ignored safety instructions following a 2019 plane collision with a fuel tanker at a Toronto airport, hampering the emergency response, an investigation has found.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board report into the collision documented passengers jumping from exits before an evacuation order was given.
Others tried to grab their belongings as they evacuated the plane.
The agency says the findings highlight the importance of following procedure.
Many passengers ignored instructions to “remain seated and calm” while some tried to grab their overhead luggage during the evacuation and others were yelling that they needed to get out of the plane, fuelling panic, the agency report, which was released this week, says.
The night-time 10 May 2019 collision took place in rainy weather that caused a Toronto to Sudbury flight to return to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport shortly after take-off.
There were 52 passengers, including three infants, on board at the time of the incident.
Fifteen people received minor injuries, including one infant who was badly bruised after being thrown from her parent’s arms, hitting the seatback and falling to into the aisle when the fuel tanker collided with the aeroplane.
The report, released this week, says the fuel tanker driver’s vision was hampered, including by rain and condensation on the vehicle windows, when the tanker, travelling 40 kph (25 mph), hit the taxiing plane,.
The pilot also failed to see the tanker in the “critical moments before the collision” due to a combination of “darkness, rain, and reflected light”.
Flight crew abused
One passenger, who had ignored the flight attendant’s request to keep her seatbelt fastened, was thrown to the floor by the impact.
In the moments after the collision, the flight attendant asked passengers to remain seated but “despite this command, some passengers unfastened their seat belts and stood up”.
One passenger climbed over the back of their seat, opened a rear emergency window exit and jumped, followed by one more passenger.
A few seconds later, the flight attendant opened one of the main doors amid pressure from passengers and “verbal threats from one of them”.
As soon as she smelled fuel, she told passengers to evacuate the plane.
Many ignored her commands to leave belongings behind, and at one point a passenger returned to the plane to retrieve belongings left on board.
Other tried to follow but were turned back by the flight attendant.
It took three minutes and 38 seconds to get all passengers off the plane, “which exceeded the 90 second certification standard for emergency evacuations”, the report states.
“It is important that passengers pay attention to the pre-flight safety briefings, review the safety features card, and follow directions from flight attendants in order to be prepared and to evacuate safely during an emergency,” it says.