Sunday, March 25, 2007

El Al emergency evacuation at Tel Aviv

El AlMore than 100 people were evacuated yesterday via emergency slides from a Boeing 737 aircraft operated by El Al Israel Airlines. The incident happened at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, after smoke was detected inside the aircraft as it was preparing to depart on a scheduled flight from Tel Aviv to Zurich.

It is unclear exactly how many were aboard El Al Flight LY347. Various news reports about the incident said that there were 123, 126, or 128 passengers plus six crew. In any case, all were evacuated safely, although at least one news article about the incident, on Israel Today, said that five people were "treated for injuries."

A news article published by the Jerusalem Post said that the smoke was caused by "traces of cleaning fluids" remaining in an engine after routine maintenance. Haaretz later offered these details:
El Al's vice president of operations, Lior Yavor, told Haaretz that, according to an initial inquiry, the smell was caused by the remnants of substances used to clean the compressors in the Boeing 737's engines over the weekend.

Yavor said an investigation will be conducted into whether the cleaning process was carried out properly, and he promised steps would be taken against those found responsible for the incident.
A report by Israeli news outlet Haaretz quoted a passenger from the flight who said that the airplane filled with smoke and there was a smell of burning. However another passenger said there wasn't any thick smoke on the plane, only a strong smell of smoke. The Jerusalem Post reported that the aircraft "sustained considerable damage from the smoke."

Jerusalem Post columnist and correspondent Michael Freund, who also works for Arutz Sheva (, happened to be aboard the aircraft at the time of the emergency, and was one of those evacuated. Click here for his description of the evacuation, with two photos.