An Azul Linhas Aereas flight came to an unexpectedly messy end on Thursday after the pilots aborted the takeoff, and a chaotic passenger-initiated evacuation followed. There are reports of panicked flight attendants and inflatable slides blown away by still running engines.
Hydraulic fault indication caused pilots to abort takeoff
The incident was reported in The Aviation Herald and involved an Azul Linhas Aereas Airbus A320-200N (registration PR-YRH). The jet was operating flight AD2751 from Cuiaba to Sao Paulo. AD2751 is the 02:00 departure from Cuiaba in Mato Grosso across to Sao Paulo.
Onboard the flight on Thursday morning were 132 passengers and crew. The Airbus pushed back from the gate normally and was soon accelerating down the runway. The plane reached 88 knots when the pilots aborted owing to a hydraulic fault indication.
In a statement, Azul Linhas Aereas said the pilots followed the normal operating procedure for this type of event. The airline added passengers evacuated the aircraft through the plane’s emergency exits.
The Aviation Herald reports the plane came to a stop without incident, some 2550 feet (780 meters) down the runway. It’s at this point this incident diverts from run-of-the-mill to something else entirely.
Chaos after the Azul Airbus came to a stop
The emergency inflatable slides were deployed for passengers to evacuate the plane. Four things appeared to go wrong here. First, a passenger reportedly deployed the first slide on his own initiative, having mistaken the flash of the red rotating beacon light for a fire. Second, the flight attendants panicked. Third, the slide did not touch the ground. Finally, the jet’s engines were still running.
“The flight attendants began to say that the plane was going to blow up, to evacuate the plane, and it was that desperate. Nobody could open the door. I don’t know how many people had already gotten out in front of me, but I managed to get out, thank God, without any injuries. I went out by the slide,” a passenger on the flight, Juliana Amorim, told Mato Grosso News.
“We saw that there were a lot of people injured because when I went down the slide, the turbine was on, so it would blow up and knock people over.
“I don’t know if it’s because of the turbine or because it didn’t open everything, it didn’t touch the ground. So there were people who fell from above. One person broke his leg when he fell.”
Azul Linhas Aereas “regrets” the incident and how it was handled
The Aviation Herald reports the passenger mistaking the beacon for fire, called out “fire,” opened an emergency exit, and exited the aircraft followed by other passengers. But the running engines blew the slide away, so the initial exit was a jump/fall instead of a slide.
“The flight attendant appeared screaming, ordering everyone to exit through the emergency exit. People started pushing, and I was with a child. Everyone went down the slide, behind the turbine,” another passenger told Mato Grosso News.
After the initial panic, the flight attendants reportedly began deploying other inflatable slides after the engines shut down and a more orderly evacuation ensued.
Another passenger, Andréia Gregoli, said that the smell of smoke and fuel inside the Airbus was strong.
“The moment he (the passenger) opened the door, it got even more intense. When we went down the slide, the turbine was very strong. Many people fell because of it.”
In its statement, Azul Linhas Aereas says it is “supporting” passengers after the messy evacuation and subsequent flight cancelation.
“(Azul) regrets what happened and reinforces that actions like this are necessary to ensure the safety of its operations,” added the statement.
At the time of writing, PR-YRH remains on the ground in Cuiaba but is scheduled to operate a flight later in the day.