Thursday, June 30, 2016

Traumatic experience of a cabin crew on SQ 368 (a/c engine fire)

I have learned a lot through this experience, the importance of effective communication between crew, pilots and fire fighters. C.I.C relaying situation inside the cabin to the pilots, fire fighters relaying situation outside the aircraft, and came out with an effective solution. Should any party failed to communicate, we won't be here today.

As for my set of crew, senior or junior, they have put the SEP drills into good used. Especially the two crew who were seated at Door XX left and right, where they can see the fire on the left wing. Both tried calling the pilots alerting them of fire. Kudos..

This what these two crew went through that day:-
"I came back home and slept. But i woke up and started crying. I believe all of us had a unique experience at our doors - each different from the other. 
Where i was seated at Door X left with xxxxxx, was not exactly the nicest of scenes. 
Right after touch down, our passengers were looking at us and clapping and we were smiling too - relieved the ordeal was over. 
But seconds later, everything changed. 

When the first few bright orange light flickered through the window, it took me a few seconds to register whether it was a fire. My first reaction was to look over at AAAA because she was closest to the door and mouth 'Fire' soft enough so other pax cant hear. 

But you dont expect this right? No one did. And where xxxx was seated - she couldnt see much as well.  My next reaction was to get out of my seat so i could get a better view of the condition - within these few seconds - the fire was raging. It only took a seconds. My first emergency call to the Captain was unanswered. My second attempt was unanswered as well. 

Now, the next 3 to 4 minutes was the craziest and probably what I'm still reeling from 
By this time - where i was, I could get a full view of what was happening. Passengers seated closest to the fire at D3R window seat were jumping out of their seats and scrambling for their bags and just running towards the door. People were shouting "FIRE!" "THERE IS A FIRE!" "DO SOMETHING!" "OPEN YOUR DOOR NOW!" "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
Passengers at D3L were all running forward as well to my door - jumping over people. By this time i couldn't call anyone although i wanted to inform either SSSS or TTTT that there was a fire. But with all the pax wanting to open my door i had to guard the door instead. 
My passenger on 43G was a mother with a 7 months baby. Throughout the flight she was telling me how anxious she was cause she was travelling alone. Her husband was waiting for her in Milan. You know when this was happening - she ran towards me and held my hands.. her eyes full of fear and she was holding her baby.. already in tears asking me what to do. 

Parents were holding their kids and looking at me hoping that I can save them. But i myself can't guarantee my own life. And although my voice and face is normal and I'm telling them to calm down .. only God knew how much i was shaking inside and desperate to do the right thing  while knowing at the back of my mind this airplane might explode anytime."

Our SEP training definitely has really played a part in the way ssss and cccc had reacted, confirm condition outside, alert pilots and crowd control.

I couldn't imagine what they are going through now, because I am not exposed to what they are exposed to. And I'm telling you, I felt the impact on me later in the evening after the adrenaline wears off.

The question of whether or not to evacuate keep popping up in my head! Did we or did not make the right decision...

With the help of sleeping aid, I forced myself to sleep. However woke up with my body and hands trembling.

Later in the day, we went to CAAS at T2 to present our statements on the incident. Reliving the incident is not a nice feeling at all.

Took ourselves off our flights and waiting for our counselling session. Some of the crew had requested for a one to one counselling session today and their request were attended immediately.

I'm looking forward to our group counselling session. Hopefully it will stop the tremors felt in my body.

Certainly hope that we can come back to work with confidence and not fear.

Safe Flying..


Anonymous said...

You got lucky.

1.There were airports much nearer than Changi,equally well equipped to handle a similar emergency and yet you chose to fly further. (e.g. KLIA where SQ has made an emergency landing before).

2.You did not evacuate immediately but chose to wait.Luckily the whole plane didn't explode despite carrying all that flammable fuel.

There are mixed reactions on how the situation should have been handled (see below).

Some even calling for the sacking of the Captain and crew.

Next time,don't take chances. How irresponsible can you be?

Kindly conduct a post mortem of the incident and review your emergency procedures.

You may not be so lucky next time.

Anonymous said...

Thought it was reported all crew and pax were very calm throughout? So who is telling the truth and who is lying? Remember SQ6, they say crew ran back to help er. F them lor. The crew were running for their lives! Help ge lan!

Anonymous said...

The crew's performance was
as bad as SPF poodles in
little India.

disgrace to Sinkapor.

Anonymous said...

You made the correct decision.

And you are safe, uninjured.
I wish you well and hope the trauma will fade.

It is indeed a challenging situation.
Doubts, uncertainty, pax wanting to get out and the
first instinct is to do that... get out!

Was it faith & belief in SEP instructors?
Was it common sense?
What was it?

... with the smell of burning oil, the sight of fire
( a very large and obvious one )with pax screaming, with no
contact and advice..

You made the right choice.
You are alive.
Lived to tell the story.

Anonymous said...

To those 8- you were lucky to have escape again this time. Wonder how many times you can get lucky before you 8 die a very horrible death and burn in hell forever. I will spit at you even in death. You know who you are. Everyday i been cursing and prayinv that you and your loved ones have a horrible end

Anonymous said...

Please tell us who are the hateful eight please �� Help us to help u in cursing them if they deserved it...

Anonymous said...

Hopeless SIA shih tzu crew. You almost got pax killed.

Switching to EK/MH/QR.

-Disappointed -

Anonymous said...

U remind me of one dead Taiwanese stewardess. She is also seeking revenge and sometimes she 'appears' on the bed in the crew's hotel room. She doesn't say much and look rather pale.

Once she appeared in the plane and the head count didn't tally!

Move on honey!

The 8 ain't going nowhere.

Singapore Captain said...

First and foremost aircraft must be secured which in case of sq368 it is. At point of turn back, aircraft has to descend on flying with one engine to about 15000ft which increases fuel burn and also need to dump fuel, don't forget this is a fully loaded 777-300ER and fuel dump takes time. So flying to KLIA and Changi may not make much of a difference anyway. In addition,KLIA may be an unfamiliar airport for 777 crew (777 stopped flying there since 2009) and in emergency every bit of familiarity advantage reduces some stress level to the crew. In no way if the aircraft is not secured that the crew will take a longer journey back to changi.

As for evacuation, key is whether the fire can be handled within 90sec as that's the standard for full aircraft evacuation. If fire engines can engage the fire within that time frame it is probably safer for pax to remain in aircraft and as we can see from footages the fire engines are already rushing towards aircraft before it comes to a complete stop. Risk of explosion? Kerosene is not flammable (die hard 2 is rubbish) and to have explosion you need fuel, vapour and spark, there are no vapour a in fuel tanks.

evacuation when fire engines are ready to engage the fire may put pax at risk and slow down fire fighting. It's a 90sec decision with limited jnformation that the captain has to make, which many comments online by people who have the luxury of time at keyboard and watching video many times.

Making life and death decision for 300 pax within 90 sec with limited jnformation is not as easy as what people think!

Anonymous said...

To those with no first hand account of what's going on - please shut up.
I congratulate the pilots and cabin crew for handling the situation superbly. Initial there was no engine fire. So why need to land at KLIA? Fire started after landing after being sparked by leaking fuel. Fire engines were already on hand. Capt was told by fire chief not to evacuate passengers. Good decision. The fact that there was no loss of life speaks volumes about our SEP training.

Anonymous said...

To the previous anonymous asking us to shut up..

How are you ever going to improve if you refuse to listen to constructive criticism?

No wonder our airline isn't number one anymore.

Your attitude speaks volumes about SIA's recruitment policy.

Just stay your arrogant self and watch us ditch the airline for something better.

Be humble and accept that the airline isn't what it once was and there might be hope yet.

Not acknowledging weaknesses at the company doesn't help at all.

Anonymous said...

OMG.What is wrong with you Singaporeans? The whole sq368 thing is bringing out the worse in some.And the name calling? SPF poodle and SIA shi tzu????Geez imagine if we did the same in Malaysia to our airline crew or policemen. It'll be like sedition or something.

Luckily I usually fly MAS,Airasia or Emirates so I don't have to sit near rude obnoxious Singaporean passengers like some of you (sorry but Singaporeans can be difficult).

SIA should review their marketing strategy so it doesn't give some passengers the impression they can expect too much from the crew. When expectations are raised,naturally people will be very disappointed when expectations are not met.

At the same time,like some have mentioned,have some kind of independent inquiry on the fire and make the findings public so people know what happened and whether there was a better way to handle it.

Lastly,picking on the crew for not smiling or being friendlier with the guai lo or not having a certain type of dish???Did you bother to smile or to make conversation? As for the dish,sometimes the crew gives up their own meal for the passenger you know,like if they've run out of it.

Just my RM5.

MY leng lui

Anonymous said...

Enrich platinum members behave better.

handsome said...

Awww u poor shih tzu.let me pet u.

Mike Lim said...

Hi Mr. Boh Tong,

Got a bit confused, the news reports stated that the incident with SQ368 was calm and orderly. However, this CC gave a different picture of the incident where the passengers were panicking. I wonder which is the real picture?

Nonetheless, it was great that were no casualty in the incident. I guess the Captain's comment was logical. The planes need to ensure they are able to land with so much weight on it before being able to perform a hard landing, if not, burning fuel/jettison would probably be necessary to ensure safety of the POB.

Kerosene is flammable above 35 celcius. Our road/pavement/runway will be hotter than that due to our weather, so it was not surprising the engine 2 caught fire. Whether or not the passengers should be evacuated first isn't that important as no one was hurt.

Enjoy reading your blog Mr. Boh Tong.

Best wishes,

Boh Tong said...

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your comment. I am not sure but there might some passengers who were panicky.
Yes, we were fortunate no one was hurt.