Friday, January 12, 2007

Do locked cockpit doors impede communication?

There's an interesting article on the Airport Business website about an incident that happened aboard a British Airways aircraft last year that has prompted some re-thinking about locked cockpit doors.

The article, which was first published by The Scotsman, describes the incident that sparked the debate:
Cabin crew were unable to contact pilots during the evacuation of a British Airways aircraft at Edinburgh airport last January after flames were seen shooting from an engine, investigators have reported.

The staff wrongly thought the plane's communication system had been knocked out, and could not reach the pilots because the cockpit door was locked. They decided to evacuate the 98 London bound passengers after seeing a 6ft flame coming from the rear of one of the plane's four engines.

One of the three cabin crew said a passenger had a "horrified look" on his face, while others had already left their seats and were moving to the front of the Avro 146-RJ100 aircraft.

The report said some passengers and a member of the cabin crew at the rear of the aircraft were not aware an emergency evacuation was in progress until they reached the front of the cabin.
As a result of that incident, BA crews are now being specifically trained on as how to operate the communications system in reduced power. In addition, the UK government also has agreed that doors between the passenger cabin and the flight deck should remain unlocked until after an aircraft's engines are started to enable access in case there is a power failure.

Read the whole article here: Engine Fire Spurs Britain to Change Rules on a Locked Cockpit - Airport Business.