A British Airways Captain accidentally deployed an emergency evacuation slide on an Airbus A320 at Heathrow Airport on Saturday after a baggage issue meant that the cabin door had to be reopened after the slide was already armed.
This is the fifth time in little more than a year that an emergency slide has been accidentally deployed on a British Airways plane in bizarre circumstances.
In this case, the 22-year-old aircraft had arrived at Heathrow on Saturday morning from Prague and was preparing for its next flight with lots of passengers trying to squeeze as much hand luggage as possible into the overhead lockers.
It would appear that space in the overhead lockers ran out, and the cabin crew were forced to offload some baggage, causing the potential for a delay. Once the cabin door was closed, the slides were immediately armed in order to make up some time but then the ground staff unexpectedly knocked at the door.
At this point, the Captain opened the door to find out what was happening and, in doing so, accidentally deployed the slide into the side of the airbridge.
The accident prompted a full-scale response from emergency services at Heathrow, with passengers evacuated from the plane via a set of stairs positioned at the back of the aircraft.
Thankfully, no one was injured, but unsurprisingly, the aircraft had to be taken out of service so that the slide could be replaced.
Known as ‘inadvertent slide deployments’ in the aviation industry, these kinds of accidents aren’t unheard of, but the vast majority are the result of cabin crew failing to properly disarm the slide mechanism and then opening the door for normal arrival formalities.
Early last month, a senior British Airways cabin crew member accidentally deployed the emergency slide on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner while the plane was still taxiing to the gate in Mumbai as they ‘demonstrated’ how to open the door to a new-hire colleague.
In 2023, two new-hire cabin crew opened the emergency exit door immediately after arming the slide for two separate flights. In a third incident, a crew member was meant to disarm their door but instead opened the door and activated the slide.
British Airways recently introduced the Japanese ritual of Shisa Kanko which translates in English to ‘pointing and calling’. The ritual involves cabin crew pointing at the door and calling out whether the door is armed or disarmed before preparing the door for departure or arrival.
The idea is that Shisha Kanko will get cabin crew to concentrate on the job at hand.
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.