HONOLULU (KHON2) — Investigators are still trying to figure out why smoke filled the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing in Honolulu.
Seven passengers were taken to the hospital.
Flight 47 from Oakland landed just before noon Thursday, Aug. 22. Crews deployed emergency slides to get nearly 200 passengers quickly off the plane.
Hawaiian Airlines says all eight slides were deployed shortly after landing and got all passengers to safety in 30 to 45 seconds.
This after both the cabin and the cargo hold filled with smoke about 20 minutes before landing.
“It set a warning off in the cockpit and that’s what prompted the emergency response and emergency landing,” said Hawaiian Airlines Chief Operations Officer Jon Snook. “The fact that the smoke was still prevalent on arrival. That was what was prompting the evacuation.”
Snook said that the crew automatically puts on masks if they sense that there’s smoke and the possibility of a fire. But oxygen masks for passengers were not released because that could do more harm than good.
“We don’t want to pump oxygen into the aircraft in case there’s a fire in the aircraft somewhere,” said Snook. “There’s been no visible evidence of fire so no visible flames on arrival.”
Five adults and two children were sent to the hospital for minor respiratory concerns. Snook says it’s still too early to say what caused the smoke and where it came from.
One possible source is someone’s luggage in the cargo hold so crews are taking extra precautions before taking the luggage out.
“Something combusting under heat so we gotta find the source of the heat and what it was that was combusting. That could be a miracle of things and so it’s really too early for us to speculate on exactly what that would be,” said Snook.
Emergency officials say passengers, crew, and first responders did a good job in preventing more injuries.
“Much of the concerns is the stepping off the aircraft but the sudden stop at the bottom,” said Airport Fire Chief Glen Mitchell. “Just a few bumps and bruises show that evacuation was done orderly and shout out to the HAL staff in making sure that as they were coming off the aircraft it was done in an orderly manner.”
Passengers were told not to take any of their carry on bags during the evacuation.
Officials say because passengers cooperated they were able to get everyone off the plane safely. Although some had some bumps and bruises.
UPDATE: Hawaiian Airlines said it has determined that a seal failed in the aircraft’s left engine, causing oil to leak onto hot parts of the plane’s engine and air conditioning pressurization system, resulting in smoke in the cabin. The performance of the engine was not affected.