As far as emergencies on airplanes go, they don’t get much worse than this… A warning of smoke in the cargo hold (indicating that there may be a deep-seated fire) and one of the engines catching fire caused the cabin of the airplane to fill with thick, toxic smoke.
Even under such dire circumstances, passengers on an Air China flight that had just made an emergency landing at Changi International Airport in Singapore on Sunday afternoon jumped onto the evacuation slides with their luggage.
After an otherwise uneventful four-and-a-half-hour flight to Singapore, the pilots of Air China flight CA403 from the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province declared an emergency just before landing.
The only thing the pilots initially knew was that there was a smoke warning in the forward cargo hold and bathroom. However, in the cabin, there was heavy smoke that made it difficult for passengers to see, and once the aircraft touched down, it was easy to see that the left-hand engine was on fire.
Pratt&Whitney engine on fire, Air China flight evacuated on Singapore runway.
CA403 TFU-SIN squawking 7700 shortly before landing at Singapore due to PW1100G engine fire. Heavy smoke in cabin, crew evacuated the plane on runway.
The aircraft is a 4-year old A320neo B-305J. pic.twitter.com/CHBTPt8Du2
— FATIII Aviation (@FATIIIAviation) September 10, 2023
The passengers were instructed to leave everything behind when an evacuation was ordered, but many turned around to grab their personal belongings. One passenger who had already exited the burning aircraft recorded a man leaping down the emergency slide while carrying a sizable silver suitcase.
Only nine of the 146 passengers onboard suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation during the evacuation, according to a statement from Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority.
The nine crew members on board all made it out safely.
Air China posted a statement on its social media page explaining how its crew handled the emergency in accordance with the airline’s policies, but adding that the incident’s exact cause was still being looked into.
Photo cover via Twitter: @FATIIIAviation