Passengers Fled Burning Jet, Without Waiting For OK: Report

(CBS) — Panicked passengers pleaded to get off a jet after it caught fire at O’Hare last October.

Their stories are part of an NTSB report out Thursday about what went wrong.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports.

The video was dramatic, showing passengers racing down the aisles of a jet on fire. Thick black smoke billowed outside the plane for 15 long seconds before the first slide deployed and then another 15 before the first passenger escaped.

An NTSB report released today shows even as flames raged outside the jet, flight attendants were shouting orders to “stay in your seats.” One passenger said when he saw the flames and “windows had started to crack,” he ignored the directions.

Another described releasing a hatch himself, and exited down the slide while the plane’s engines were still on.

The report shows all exits opened within 40 seconds, and the plane emptied in just over 2 minutes. Passengers said they hit the ground running, or stayed to help others.

Flight crew members said they at first waited for a pilot’s announcement, but when the cabin began filling with smoke, they evacuated the aircraft.

A broken metal disc recovered at the scene — a rotating piece of the engine — was found to have an anomaly in the metal that led to cracks.

Of the 170 people aboard that day, only one suffered serious injury.

The 500-page report shows pilots were completing a checklist for nearly 90 seconds before ordering an evacuation. They’re supposed to depressurize the cabin before turning off the engines. Passengers were jumping down slides before that happened.

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