Delta Air Lines is facing a lawsuit for failing to initiate the evacuation of a smoke-filled plane shortly after landing at Denver International Airport (DEN) in May 2018. Joseph Fahy from Boston, Massachusetts recently filed documents in the District Court of Denver County, Colorado nearly two years after the incident aboard Delta Air Lines flight DL1854 which resulted in several passengers suffering minor injuries and one being transported to the hospital.
Fahy claims in the lawsuit that the Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines “engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct” by failing to “effectuate a safe and orderly emergency evacuation of the aircraft” after thick smoke started to pour out of the air vents. He says he feared for his life during the incident and still experiences “emotional disturbance” as a result of Delta’s alleged negligence.
Flight DL1854, operated by a 20-year old McDonnell Douglas MD-90, had 153 passengers onboard when it landed at Denver airport after an otherwise uneventful three-hour flight from Detroit, Michigan. But just a few minutes after landing, the flight crew requested emergency assistance for a suspected fire onboard.
As gray-colored smoke filled the cabin, Fahy claims the flight attendants shouted at passengers to “Stay down, get down lower” but they did not initiate an emergency evacuation. Fearing for this life, Fahy and a group of passengers took matters into their own hands and opened the overwing emergency exits themselves without receiving instructions from crew.
Shortly afterwards, flight attendants opened floor level emergency exits and started to evacuate passengers via inflatable slides. Photos taken by those caught up in the incident show a large group of passengers stuck on the wing after evacuating from the smoke-filled cabin but with no way to get down to the tarmac below.
Amongst complaints contained in the lawsuit, Fahy accuses Delta of failing to start the evacuation while passengers waited in “abject fear” of “immolation” and then failed to properly evacuate the aircraft. The lawsuit also says Delta should have done more to provide “adequate emergency assistance to an aircraft in distress”.
According to the Aviation Herald, the cause of the smoke was found to be a hydraulic leak onto the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The aircraft returned to service shortly after the incident and continued flying for Delta until being retired early in April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delta Air Lines has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.