Emergency Evacuation of Commercial Passenger Aeroplanes

A Specialist Paper prepared by the Flight Operations Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society (April 2018)

This paper titled ‘Emergency Evacuation of Commercial Passenger Aeroplanes’ has been developed by the Royal Aeronautical Society’s (RAeS) Flight Operations Group (FOG). Over many years several accidents have identified the need for improvements to regulatory airworthiness and operational requirements, resulting in changes to aeroplane manufacturing and maintenance procedures, as well as to operators’ crew procedures and training.

This paper is therefore partly historical and is a record as to why changes were made to aviation requirements. While transportation by air is conducted at very high safety levels, accidents and incidents involving emergency evacuation still occur. Some accidents that happened several years ago are featured in this document, as well as some that are more recent, and reflect some of the negatives as well as the many positives. Recent issues such as the secured flight deck door, introduced after the terrorist attacks of 2001, and the increasing amount of cabin baggage being allowed into passenger cabins can pose new challenges to both flight crew and cabin crew in emergency evacuations.

The intention of this paper is to provide aviation authorities, aeroplane manufacturers, operators, and air accident investigation agencies, with a wide-range of information on evacuation issues. The Royal Aeronautical Society has made every effort to identify and obtain permission from the copyright holders of the photographs included in this publication. Where material has been inadvertently included without copyright permission, corrections will be acknowledged and included in subsequent editions.

The Flight Operations Group is grateful for the comments received in the development of this paper from various aviation safety agencies including aviation authorities, aeroplane manufacturers and air accident investigators.