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Article from BTNews 28 SEPTEMBER 2015

COMMENT: BA and Las Vegas – The lesson of a near disaster

Over the next few weeks we will hear the official verdict regarding the British Airways’ near disaster at Las Vegas on 9 September.  Just another few seconds later the aircraft would have been airborne, and that would have been it!

There is one serious lesson to be learnt which should be implemented now.

The passenger safety drill needs to be carried out before engine start-up and not when the aircraft is being towed or taxiing.  Engineers will tell you that the chance of a catastrophic fire while the engines are not under full power is extremely low, but nothing should be left to chance when it comes to safety.

Your Editor has been on four flights since the Las Vegas incident, all with top quality airlines.  The briefings have been varied to say the least.  With the smaller aircraft, and no personalised video screen, the cabin staff were exemplary, less so on the wide-bodied aircraft where the crew were perhaps too reliant on the TV recording.

Cruise ships are not allowed to leave the dock until every person aboard has been through the drill following the Costa Concordia incident.

There is no practical reason why the emergency routine cannot be implemented once the aircraft doors are closed.  Yes it will add perhaps two minutes to the procedures but once established as part of flying will not be even noticed.

BTN  has no sympathy with those who escaped from the aircraft with their own personal hand luggage, putting others at risk and ignoring cabin staff demands.  They should be charged with offences under the US disorder acts and be banned from flying for a period.  Perhaps other passengers should instigate a class action against them.

BA was lucky.  Engines are very reliable.  But lessons must be learnt.  ICAO should introduce a new safety briefing rule today.  And not tomorrow.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Sheila Randall, USA

I totally agree with the editor. Air passengers need to be prosecuted for that kind of selfish, dangerous and life-threatening behaviour.

Jim Campbell, Banbury

Whilst it may be appropriate to punish those who took personal effects, to focus on this action alone is to miss the point. I don\'t belive that so many people would have taken their luggage if they actually realised that they implication of doing so actually endangered other people. Safety briefings generally just tell you to leave stuff behind - so I suspect most people don\'t fully appreciate that they are putting other people\'s lives in danger if they ignore the rule. If people understand why the rule exists they are more likely to conform.

Michael Ross, Borehamwood

Well said

Mike Pitman, Jersey

Well they're easily identified from the many photos posted on social media. One guy even named his colleague with an air of admiration that he had brought his bags. Make an example here and in the USA.

Bryn Elliott, UK

I agree wholeheartedly and it is a pity some way cannot be formulated to make sure passengers at least 'appear' to pay attention to the drill. I have heard it enough to be word perfect by now but still at least look in the direction of the hapless crew for those vital two minutes.

Richard Dawnay, Ryde

A number of points on this matter. 1. Have those who disembarked with their hand baggage been charged with endangering life yet and if not, then why not. 2. It has amazed me for sometime as to why the safety briefing is not carried out before the aircraft is moved / engines started. Is this so as to clear the gate before incurring extra charges? 3. Locking of the overhead bins could be quite easily installed, for instance by using the system currently used for the now defunct 'no smoking signs'. A little bit of thought by the design department could sort this. 4. I recently flew with an airline whose flight safety card lacked words, just used symbols. I returned it to the pocket in front . Confused.

Robert Shaw, Uk

Quite agree, those idiots who took cabin baggage should be charged and banned from flying for a period. How many of the injuries were caused by people being hit from above by suitcases on slides ?