Air passengers evacuated after smoke fills cabin
PASSENGERS escaped without injury yesterday when they were forced to make an emergency evacuation from an aircraft.
There were dramatic scenes at Kerry Airport shortly after 9am as all 160 passengers on board Ryanair flight FR701 from London Stansted had to make their escape via the aircraft's emergency chutes.
Passenger Richard Hartnett said there was "panic" on board when passengers saw "black smoke" coming from the cockpit. He said people fled the scene in terror after firemen told them to "keep running".
"The whole cabin filled up with a fog and it felt like five minutes had passed before anyone did anything," Mr Hartnett told the Irish Independent.
"The pilot came out and told us we were in an evacuation procedure and the slides came out.
"When I came down the slide the firemen at the end of it said 'keep running' and we had to run to the green bit of ground off the runway.
"Tears were running down my face but I think it was from shock," said Mr Hartnett who was making his way home from London to spend Christmas with his family in Ballyheigue.
"There was just panic with everyone running for their lives and nobody knew what was happening. The way it was handled was dreadful. There were people in their 80s on that flight and one man said he didn't have his medicine."
Spokesman for Kerry Airport Basil Sheerin said the plane landed safely but the captain could smell fumes in the cockpit as the aircraft taxied to the main stand.
"The captain advised Kerry air traffic control and we initiated our emergency procedures which involved the local fire service, gardai and the ambulance service," he said. "The captain stopped the aircraft and advised the passengers that he was instigating an emergency evacuation.
"Kerry Airport personnel were on hand to assist the passengers as they used the chutes and all passengers were evacuated safely."
The aircraft was boarded by airport and fire officers but there was no evidence of burning in the cockpit.
It remained at Kerry Airport yesterday evening while both Ryanair and the air accident investigation unit completed their checks.
There was no major disruption to Kerry Airport operations as a result of the incident and all flights operated on schedule. But the outbound Ryanair to Dublin due to depart at 9.25am was delayed.