Wearing Oxygen Masks: Pilots Forced To Make Emergency Landing

While wearing oxygen masks, pilots were forced to make an emergency landing.

As the United Press International (UPI) reports, a British Airways flight had to make an emergency landing at the London Heathrow airport after the pilots of the plane became starved for oxygen.

The incident took place on March 6 after the pilots aboard the Boeing 777 started experiencing nausea, headache, light-headedness, and “a constant urge to take deep breaths and difficulty maintaining concentration” at around 34,000 feet, a report released Thursday, August 13 by the British Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed.

The pilots were forced to wear oxygen masks and open the cockpit door, which is a policy violation since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to get air into the tiny room. Two cabin members and the “the ‘heavy’ co-pilot” stood next to the door to serve as security. “Curtains were drawn to prevent the passengers from seeing that the cockpit door was open,” the report read.

Realizing something was definitely wrong, the pilots made the decision not to continue the flight, which was carrying 235 passengers and crew members, and returned to the airport.

“With the flight deck door open and one pilot using his oxygen mask, they decided that they could not continue the flight,” investigators wrote in the report. “The pilot believes the flight deck door had been open for a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes.”

After further investigation, it was determined that an “accumulation of wire, bubble wrap, and insulation material was blocking the air duct servicing the cockpit,” and because of the “brittle appearance” of the debris, it is believed it had been building up within the duct for “some time.” The report also noted that the same plane had been investigatef for inadequate airflow on two previous occasions, on February 18 and February 26. However, the engineers thought they fixed the underlying cause of the problem, which was the “flight deck temperature sensors being contaminated and soiled, causing the trim air valve to modulate to high temperatures.”

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority and actions have been taken to help prevent this situation from recurring,” British Airways said in a statement to ABC News. “Our highly trained pilots took the decision to put on oxygen masks and return the aircraft to Heathrow after they noticed a fault, where the plane landed normally. Our cabin crew looked after customers and we arranged an alternative aircraft so that they could continue their journey.”

[Photo by Bychykhin Olexandr / Shutterstock.com]