Emergency Evacuation

A major part of each safety demo is what to do in case of an emergency evacuation. While there is a wide range in the size of aircraft used by airlines, from the regional jet to an Airbus 380, most evacuation procedures are the same.

All aircraft have emergency lighting inside the cabin, along the aisles and over the exits. The aisle path lighting is alternating red and white lights on the floor, on newer aircraft they can be on the outside of the aisle seats. The red lights indicate where the exits are. These are installed in case the cabin is dark and/or smoky so if you are down low to get out of the rising smoke, you can figure out where to exit. These lights, as well as the exit lights, will illuminate automatically if there is a disruption in the regular aircraft electrical power. These lights are connected to the hot battery bus.

All of the doors in your aircraft have emergency escape slides that are attached to the bottom of each door. The flight attendants have checked these on their preflight checks to make sure they have the proper pressure and are attached. Once all the doors are closed for departure, getting ready to push back from the gate and taxi, the flight attendants will "arm" the doors by placing the "girt" bar into holders on the floor. This means that in an evacuation, when the doors are opened, these slides will blow open with this girt bar keeping the escape slide attached to the aircraft. This girt bar holds a lanyard that starts the inflation of the slide when the door is opened. These emergency escape slides will extend to the ground.

The wing exit doors or windows will open but do not have slides because you are expected to go out the wing and try to slide off. This would be pretty hard to do on some aircraft but some have slides on the wings to mitigate these heights. One thing that the pilots will try to do in their emergency evacuation checklist is to lower the flaps so it makes it easier to exit off the wing. The flight attendants are always seated near the door exits for takeoffs and landings, but you the passenger, must be able to open the window exits. So if you are sitting in the exit rows, please take an extra minute to review these opening window exit procedures.

You might notice red straps that can be strapped across the small porthole windows in the doors. The flight attendants will have these across the windows when the doors are armed. This is to ensure that if someone comes up to the door from the outside, which is usually the service food trucks, that the slides are not blown by opening the doors accidently. If this happens, your flight will be delayed so that a new emergency evacuation slide can be installed!

An emergency evacuation, whether planned or unplanned, will be a high-stress event for both crew and passengers. As in so many things, if you just take a couple of minutes to review what you will do in an emergency evacuation, it will help you and your fellow passengers. Where is the closest exit? is it forward or back of me? how far? how do you open it? how can I assist others and the flight attendants?

Emergency Evacuation back to Taxi Out

Emergency Evacuation back to My Airline Flight