TORONTO – The Transportation Safety Board says the evacuation of a WestJet plane after a collision with another aircraft at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport was hampered when some passengers tried to take carry-on luggage with them.
The board says the WestJet flight carrying 169 passengers and six crew members from Cancun, Mexico, was waiting for a gate when it was hit by a Sunwing jet being towed to another location at the airport on Jan. 5.
When a large ball of fire erupted near the area where the aircraft made contact, the WestJet crew immediately began an evacuation and the ground crew pulled the Sunwing aircraft back towards the gate.
The TSB says when the Sunwing plane was pulled away, the fire on the wing of the WestJet aircraft self-extinguished, while the fire on the tail of the Sunwing aircraft continued but decreased in intensity.
It says that three seconds after the fire erupted, and before any commands from the crew, some WestJet passengers had opened an emergency exit and escaped onto the wing and other passengers followed.
The TSB said in a report released Wednesday that it’s recommending the Department of Transport require that passenger safety briefings include clear direction to leave all carry-on baggage behind during an evacuation.
During the evacuation, flight attendants issued instructions, with and without the assistance of a handheld megaphone, telling the passengers to leave all their carry-on baggage behind, the TSB said.
“Despite these instructions, numerous passengers brought carry-on baggage with them, which slowed down the evacuation process,” the report said.
The TSB says a flight attendant suffered a minor hand injury, but no one else was injured in the evacuation of the WestJet plane.
The technician on the Sunwing aircraft had minor injuries after leaving through a cockpit window and going down an emergency rope.
The TSB said the evacuation took approximately two minutes and 23 seconds from the time the captain made the evacuation call.