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SWISS Urgently Replacing 1,000 Special ‘Smoke Hoods’ Used By Cabin Crew After They Didn’t Work Properly in Two Recent Incidents

SWISS Urgently Replacing 1,000 Special ‘Smoke Hoods’ Used By Cabin Crew After They Didn’t Work Properly in Two Recent Incidents

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Swiss International Air Lines is urgently replacing 1,000 special ‘smoke hoods’ which are used by cabin crew during onboard emergencies after discovering that one of two types of smoke hood used by the airline had ‘partially limited’ functionality.

The issue came to light after two recent incidents in which cabin crew had to don the smoke hoods only to realise that they “did not function faultlessly” or were difficult to remove from the packaging.

The hoods are properly known as ‘protective breathing equipment’ or PBE for short and act in a similar way to the breathing equipment that firefighters wear by supplying a fresh supply of oxygen to crew members dealing with a smoke or fume event.

The big difference with aviation PBE devices, however, is that they are a one-use-only piece of emergency equipment with small oxygen generators which are designed to take up as little space onboard as possible and are stored for a long time without ever being used.

In two separate incidents in July and August, cabin crew had to deal with ‘strange odours’ in the passenger cabin of two different Airbus A330 aircraft. Following standard procedures, the crew members went to put on their PBE but discovered that they either didn’t work properly or the storage box was difficult to open.

In a statement, a SWISS spokesperson noted that at no point were the crew or passengers in danger, but a review of the PBE was ordered.

“Specialists from various SWISS units subjected the company’s PBE to extensive further examination and concluded that the functionality was indeed partially limited on one of the two types used,” a statement from the airline continued.

“While this less-than-full usability was not detected on all the hoods in question, SWISS has decided, as a precautionary measure, to replace all the PBE of the type concerned.”

The airline did not name the brand of PBE involved, although there are only a handful of manufacturers worldwide, and the decision could have implications for airlines globally.

SWISS says it has to replace 1,000 affected PBEs, and while procurement has already begun, the replacement programme could take several months. The airline said that in the meantime, crew members would receive additional training to “further sensitize them to the special care required when using the hoods concerned.”

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