View Full Version : Flight #433 - Oxygen Chaos
I was on a Spirit flight from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale on 6/30/09. We were almost to the Fort Lauderdale area when the cabin lost pressure and there was this smoke that was filling the cabin and it smelled horrible. It burned my nose, eyes, throat, lips and I couldn't breathe. Does anyone know what this chemical could of been the we were exposed to? When a cabin of a plane loses pressure, my understanding is that the oxygen masks are supposed to drop down. Well, in this case some did and some didn't. I was sitting in seat 2A and my oxygen compartment did not open. A passenger sitting behind me had to stand up and use a pen to pry open the compartment. When the oxygen compartment did open and the masks fell, they were in a tangled mess. Stewardesses were running up and down the aisle looking for things to use to pry open the compartments that didn't open. When we made the emergency landing in Daytona, we were not told where we were landing. So much miscommunication to our families who were first told that our plane was landing in Ft. Lauderdale, then they were told we were on a bus, but Spirit flew another plane to Daytona to pick us up. We waited in Daytona for 6 hours.
07-11-2009, 04:08 AM
i have never lost cabin pressure so i cant say whether or not if the "smoke" you saw was part of that, i dont know. but there are 2 ways that flight attendants can open those oxygen masks compartments (which im not going to say, cause under my company policy its SSI) you probably weren't told because the pilots are so busy in the flight deck under normal operations before landing i couldn't imagine the chaos up there during an emergency situation, i just know what i have to do from my training, and i can only tell the passengers what i know from what i hear from my pilots. the pilots also have a way in the flight deck to drop the oxygen masks compartments from up there. if i were an employee of spirit or even a passenger i would try to also email airbus (since that is the type of aicraft it was) and ask why some opened and some didn't. did they tell you it was a lost of cabin pressure??
07-11-2009, 04:35 AM
This incident was in the news. There was no loss of cabin pressure. The sudden drop in altitude was so that they would no longer require cabin pressure which may have accelerated a fire if there was one. According to the crew the masks were never deployed. Panicked passengers forced the compartments open. If there is smoke in the cabin oxygen could turn a slow burn into an inferno very quickly.
As far as not being informed of where they were landing I'm sure they were told once on the ground. Once an emergency is declared only essential announcements are made from the flight deck. The only announcement made to the passengers on US Airways flight 1549 was "brace for impact."
As for the communication issues once on the ground, you must realize that Spirit does not fly into Daytona. There's no ground staff at all. According to the news reports the station manager from Ft. Lauderdale drove up to Daytona to handle the situation. Having a disabled aircraft divert to an airport that an airline doesn't serve must be a logistical nightmare. I'm sure Spirit was considering bus service but they were somehow able to pull a spare aircraft and crew from somewhere to do the job instead. Additionally the airport arranged food and beverages forthe stranded passengers.
07-11-2009, 05:09 AM
thanks for clearing that up! i didnt hear about this.
07-12-2009, 06:54 AM
The mist that you saw was hydraulic fluid, commonly called Skydrol. The only other possible mist would have been jet fuel, but you would have known that was it form the smell. The hydraulic fluid is clear as well. It doesn't have that unique fuel smell, but it does have a funky smell. As far as effects from it, you should be fine. It does burn like hell if you get it in your eyes and such. But I've seen several occasions where guys have gotten Skydrol in their eyes and mouth before, and never had any effects after they got it flushed out of their eyes, etc. Basically if there were going to be any harmful after effects you would have had them by now, and it wouldn't be subtle either.
Here's a bit of info from the manufacturer of Skydrol.
Skydrol Info (http://www.skydrol.com/pages/glove.asp)
As for all the masks not dropping, I would say there wasn't actually a loss of cabin pressure. Trust me, you would have noticed. Anytime you have a decrease in pressure, you have a decrease in temperature. With a depressurization of an aircraft, it's sudden, and so is the temperature drop. As a result the cabin will instantly fill with fog caused by the air suddenly releasing it's water vapor. Also your ears would have popped. I've had a couple occasions to sit with a mechanic when he had to pressurize the cabin while on the ground. Both times when he was done, he opened the air outflow vent pretty quickly. It wasn't enough to cause the masks to drop, but that cabin got cold real fast, and once there was a bit of mist in the air.
And trust me, half of those masks would not have failed to drop if it were in fact an actual loss of pressure. Spirit has a brand new fleet these days. I'm not sure how old the oldest plane is, but it's not more than about 5 years old or so. If there was a pretty good jolt of some sort it can knock them open. The one's on the Airbus are also not the best latches out there. I actually saw one drop open in flight for no good reason.
07-12-2009, 07:03 AM
As for the communication issues once on the ground, you must realize that Spirit does not fly into Daytona. There's no ground staff at all. According to the news reports the station manager from Ft. Lauderdale drove up to Daytona to handle the situation. Having a disabled aircraft divert to an airport that an airline doesn't serve must be a logistical nightmare.
I'm going to disagree with you here. There had to be another airline that ground handled the aircraft. It's not all that unusual for an airline to have to set a plane down in a city they don't fly to. Doesn't happen everyday, but certainly far from unheard of. There's always some airline or ground handler to deal with this.
Now it is possible that the other airline was not able to make bus arrangements since the bus company might have required payment or a voucher up front. But, Orlando is only about 1 hour drive away, and Spirit does fly to Orlando. They could have had someone from Orlando go handle this.
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