Full-scale disaster drill at Kansas City International, in full swing – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
Practice makes perfect. And in the realm of aviation safety drills, it also creates incredible experiences for willing volunteers. Kansas City International Airport (MCI, or KCI as it’s referred to by the locals) recently hosted their triennial emergency exercise, and I was fortunate enough to score a role as a victim. I was told this was a full-scale drill from the beginning, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
The closest I’ve ever been to anything remotely resembling an emergency was on my very first Airbus A320 flight just a few years ago from Minneapolis (MSP) to Pittsburgh (PIT). It was late, and after a typical approach the engines roared and we were on steep climb. Upon leveling off, the Delta captain came on to tell us we had briefly “lost steering.” After a missed approach and a fly-by, we landed uneventfully, were greeted by an ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) escort, and towed to the gate. This experience, plus participating in some rudimentary safety training with Delta during last year’s #InsideDelta event, formed the foundation for my expectations.
I would soon learn I had no idea how disasters really play out, especially on the ground…
F-GZCP, the Airbus A330 involved in Air France flight 447, taken in March 2007. Photo by Pawel Kierzkowski / Wikipedia.
I have read quite a bit about Air France flight 447 that crashed on June 1, 2009. I think a recent story from Popular Mechanics is the best and really paints a picture about what really happened in the cockpit of that Airbus A330 the day of the accident.
The story shows what was said on the voice recorder and explains what it all means, very interesting and worth the time to read it.
To the untrained eye, one might not know what airline owns this Boeing 737. Lucky for us airline nerds, it is easy to tell that it is either a Boeing 737 with United or Continental livery.
This incident happed a few months back in in Greenville, Mississippi after the aircraft was painted to the new United Airlines livery. It had completed being painted and was about to be flown to Houston on a ferry flight. While taxiing out to the runway, the concrete collapsed under the left main gear, causing it to fold.
Luckily there were no passengers on board and both pilots were able to escape, uninjured, out the back of the aircraft.
It appears as though United didn’t want to be associated with a broken down aircraft on the taxi-way and they covered up all the identifiable markings. This is not uncommon for airlines to do when their aircraft become severely damaged.
I tried to get a status update on the aircraft from United, but at this time they have no comment. I have been trying to track down the registration number of this aircraft, but I have not had any luck. Super brownie points to anyone who can.
On April 29, 2007 a Thomson Airways Boeing 757, flight 253H, was taking off from Manchester Airport on its way to Spain when a bird (most people said a heron, but it looks black and smaller to me) got sucked into its starboard engine. The video shows the bird going in, the flame out and the plane landing safely at Manchester Airport.