The evacuation of Asiana Flight 214 was delayed by 90 seconds, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The information was released on Wednesday during a media briefing about the plane crash, which killed two and injured almost 200.
NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman explained that people didn’t start evacuating the aircraft until 90 seconds after the plane crash landed at San Francisco International Airport.
While pilots initially called for passengers to remain where they were, one of the flight attendants insisted that passengers evacuate. Officials explained the delay happened as the Asiana flight’s pilot checked with the airport’s tower. Hersman added:
“He could see fire outside of the window. He sent the flight attendant who was sitting with him up to the front of the cabin to let them know that there was fire and they needed to evacuate.”
At that point, the evacuation was initiated and the doors to the plane were opened. But that wasn’t the end of the issues. Two evacuation slides inflated inside the cabin instead of outside, trapping two flight attendants. Crew and passengers used hatchets to deflate the slides and rescue the attendants.
While it may seem counterintuitive to delay an evacuation after a plane crashes, CBS News aviation consultant Captain Chesley Sullengerber, who piloted the famous “Miracle on the Hudson” jet that crash landed in 2009, explained:
“[A number of seconds were needed] to assess the situation and make sure that it wasn’t more dangerous for them to immediately evacuate into an unknown situation than to remain on board.”
However, Sullenberger added that flight attendants, per their training, are allowed the begin an evacuation immediately “when they determine that the threat exists and it’s an immediate danger, or if they can’t contact the pilots.”
But in the Asiana Flight 214 crash, that wasn’t the case. The flight attendant who spotted the fire was able to get in contact with the pilots, who initiated an evacuation, which has been credited with saving the lives of several critically wounded passengers.
The first emergency crews arrived 30 seconds after the evacuation of the crashed Asiana plane began.
[Image via Twitter]