While it’s exceptionally rare for an aircraft’s slides to have to be deployed, every commercial aircraft is fitted with a number of them, to ensure that in the event of an emergency, customers can get off the aircraft quickly and safely. The huge inflatables which can be up to 14 metres (or 46 ft) long, are a crucial part of an aircraft’s safety kit.
Safety is British Airways highest priority, and the airline has created a behind-the scenes video, giving access to rarely seen regular tests on its evacuation slides.
During the film, British Airways licensed engineer Peter Dyer explains that every British Airways aircraft is fitted with evacuation slides, and these systems are checked on an almost daily basis. The airline’s highly trained engineers also frequently ‘blow’ the slides to ensure they work properly.
The aircraft shown on the video is one of British Airways’ Boeing 777-200 planes at Gatwick, which is fitted with eight slides. Peter Dyer explains that if the aircraft door is opened when it is in what is known as the ‘automatic’ position, the slide will automatically deploy. Incredibly, it takes just six seconds to fully roll out.
If you’ve ever heard cabin crew being asked to ‘cross check’ a door, Peter explains that ‘Doors to automatic’ or ‘manual’ are the positions the door needs to be in prior to taking off and landing, so that they can be used in an emergency. Cross checking is a way of cabin crew making sure that they are in the correct position. They shouldn’t be armed (ie, with slides ready to inflate) when the aircraft is about to arrive at the stand to start disembarkation.
The video can be viewed here.