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Spirit Airlines A320neo Has Engine Fire, Evacuates

As reported by The Aviation Herald, a Spirit Airlines plane experienced an engine fire and evacuation yesterday. There are two interesting aspects to the story — the actual incident, and then the video of the evacuation.

Spirit Airlines A320neo has Atlantic City incident

This involves Spirit Airlines flight 3044 from Atlantic City (ACY) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) yesterday evening (October 2, 2021). The flight was operated by a nearly two year old Airbus A320neo with the registration code N922NK.

The plane was accelerating for takeoff at Atlantic City Airport’s runway 31, though the crew rejected the takeoff at around 60 knots due to a bird strike with the right engine. This was a fairly low speed rejected takeoff, and the plane stopped just 1,800 feet down the runway. The engine caught fire due to this incident. The pilots requested fire trucks, and about a minute later they called for the aircraft to be evacuated. Everyone got off the plane without incident.

A passenger seated just behind the right wing took a video of the engine fire, and obviously I can appreciate how this must have been scary for passengers onboard.

Then there’s the evacuation video

Passengers had to evacuate the plane via emergency slides. There’s a roughly four minute video of what it was like inside the cabin during this incident, and my gosh, the passengers sure aren’t very good at following instructions.

You can hear the crew repeatedly announcing “remain seated, remain seated.” But passengers don’t remain seated, but instead get up, retrieve their items from the overhead bins, and yell “fire, fire, fire.” You can hear passengers yelling “oh sh!t, we have to get out of here,” all while the crew keeps announcing to remain seated, as fire trucks are on the way. But passengers continue to request to get off the plane, yelling “c’mon, open this door and let us out.”

Eventually (once the fire is under control) passengers are called to evacuate, and are told to avoid the right hand engines. As passengers evacuate, they’re repeatedly told to leave everything behind, and just jump on the slide. Go figure just about nobody listens, and instead most passengers take their bags.

Fortunately this wasn’t a more serious situation, but this evacuation is downright painful to watch:

  • First passengers are trying to tell the crew when the evacuation should happen, as if they have any clue what they’re talking about
  • Then when they finally are allowed to evacuate, they endanger themselves and other passengers by taking their bags with them; one lady with a bag even fell to the floor, because I guess she was trying to take too many things with her

From the perspective of the crew, it seems that they did everything they could to help passengers evacuate safely. They repeatedly told passengers to remain seated (few people listened), and repeatedly told passengers to leave carry-ons behind (they didn’t listen), so what more could the crew really do?

Bottom line

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320neo had to be evacuated at Atlantic City Airport last night, after the engine caught fire due to a bird strike. The plane was brought to a stop and emergency services were called, and the situation was quickly contained, at which point passengers were safely evacuated.

Still, watching the way passengers acted during the evacuation is incredibly frustrating. Passengers don’t at all listen to crew instructions, both when it comes to remaining seated, and when it comes to leaving carry-on items behind. Fortunately in this situation it didn’t cost anyone their life.

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