On a packed Boeing 777-300 operated by Cathay Pacific, eleven people were hurt when an evacuation using inflatable escape slides had to be performed because the brakes appeared to have overheated after an attempted takeoff.
The evacuation took place after the pilots of Cathay Pacific flight CX880 to Los Angeles became aware of a technical problem while the 13-year-old aircraft was speeding along the runway.
Nine injured passengers have already been released from the hospital, while only two injured passengers are still there. The majority of the affected passengers have already boarded a replacement aircraft that the airline has scheduled for Los Angeles.
After the majority of passengers and crew had already left the plane, chaotic video of the evacuation showed some exiting the airplane with hand luggage while some remained behind, appearing unhurried to go.
As more video emerges (via HKADB on Facebook) look at the state of evacuation (seems like a straggler) and a bag is in the way (also the passenger seems in no hurry while filming) @PaulWeatherilt pic.twitter.com/J6WEgCiMNe
— Danny Lee (@AirEVthingTRNSP) June 24, 2023
293 passengers and 17 crew members were aboard the plane, according to Cathay Pacific. 283 of them have been accommodated on the new aircraft to Los Angeles.
The initial flight was scheduled to leave Hong Kong shortly after midnight on Saturday, but it turned around and went back to the gate. The aircraft’s brakes appear to have overheated as a result of the aborted takeoff, which may have led to some minor flames.
“After the aircraft returned to the gate a precautionary passenger evacuation was initiated by the crew, and passengers exited the aircraft using five-door escape slides,” a Cathay Pacific spokesperson explained.
“Our priority is to look after all affected passengers and crew,” a statement from the airline continued.
Since there is a significant risk of harm during an emergency evacuation using escape slides, some airlines and aviation regulators advise against using them unless absolutely necessary rather than just as a precaution.
Pilots occasionally think about whether a “precautionary rapid disembarkation” is a preferable alternative than an emergency evacuation in situations like this one where the plane has already returned to the gate and a jetbridge has been attached to the aircraft.
A speedy debarkation entails removing passengers from the plane as soon as possible, preferably without their hand bags. Although it is undoubtedly a slower process than using escape slides, there is a decreased risk of harm.
The necessity of an emergency evacuation will likely be examined by accident investigators, who will next try to gauge how well the crew managed the evacuation.