Armed and no cross check!

Recently a news item crossed our path and piqued our curiosity. It seems a little blunder by cleaning staff triggered an emergency slide of a Cathay Pacific B777 to inflate, delaying 277 travellers bound for Chicago recently.


Recently a news item crossed our path and piqued our curiosity. It seems a little blunder by cleaning staff triggered an emergency slide of a Cathay Pacific B777 to inflate, delaying 277 travellers bound for Chicago recently.

The aircraft was parked at the terminal building at Hong Kong International Airport undergoing servicing by ground crew and cleaning staff. As a result of the incident the aircraft was immediately taken out of service for inspection — a normal procedure following deployment of a slide — and passengers were forced to wait for a replacement aircraft.

The official comment from the airline was as follows: “We suspect that there was a procedural error by a staff member from our cleaning services provider. It had nothing to do with any technical issues,” an airline spokeswoman said, apologising for the inconvenience.

So that of course got the Belly Achers thinking, what sort of “procedural error” would be required to cause an emergency slide on the widebody B777 to deploy? After some in-depth probing we’re now experts on the operation of emergency evacuation slides!

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The short of the story is: It’s not a simple issue to ‘accidentally’ deploy an evacuation slide. We will spare you the long version, but in essence there is a multiple step process to remove safety pins, arm the door and finally open the door which actually triggers the deployment of the slide.