A Plane Caught Fire But 350 People Survived Miraculously

A Plane Caught Fire But 350 People Survived Miraculously


Anybody who’s boarded a plane knows the
feeling. After you find your seat, put your stuff in
the overhead locker, and sit down – your mind now recovering from the hustle-and-bustle
of getting to the airport and through security to find your gate –apprehension starts to
creep in. You try to push it away, convince yourself
that thousands of planes fly every single day. “Nothing will go wrong. It’s just a routine flight. Relax.” And that’s right! Your odds of being in some air catastrophe
are 1 in 11 million! But these things do happen, like the story
of Orenair Flight 554. So buckle up, it’s going to be a — well
you know how the saying goes… The Russian airliner was departing from Punta
Cana in the Dominican Republic and heading to Moscow. This was a routine 12-hour direct flight,
full of happy, tanned Russian tourists who, I imagine, had just had the time of their
lives on a long-awaited sunny beach vacation in escape of the cold February weather back
home. There were 351 passengers on board, along
with 20 crewmembers. At around 6pm local time, after the pilots
had done all the necessary inspections and checks, the huge Boeing-777 was ready for
take-off. It accelerated down the runway, the wheels
left the ground, and the plane began its ascent. Everything was going smoothly, people were
either chatting, listening to music, or closing their eyes to get some rest. After all, they had a long flight ahead of
them, might as well spend most of those 12 hours snoozing! Well, turns out, the flight wasn’t quite
as long as it should’ve been… Just 15 minutes after their successful take-off,
the pilots noticed that the plane stopped climbing at 12,000 feet (3,700 m). It just wouldn’t go any higher to the 31,000
feet (9,500 m) of altitude that it needed. Before the cockpit even had time to notify
air traffic control about the altitude issue, a loud clap was heard throughout the cabin. Then, the plane started to descend about 1,000
feet (300 m). Passengers had heard the bang and felt the
plane start to fall, but they didn’t really know what was going on. Most figured the jet was hitting a little
turbulence. (Those are the things we tell ourselves to
shoo away the rising sense of panic, right? “Nothing’s wrong. It’s routine. Relax…”) They carried on with their quiet flight, but
that didn’t last long. A couple of minutes later, everyone was startled
by the sound of metal screeching. There was no denying it now: something was
definitely wrong, and this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill turbulence. Everyone in the cabin got uneasy. “What’s going on?” “What was that sound?” “Is everything ok?” Not even a minute had gone by when thick black
smoke started to puff out of the left wing. That’s when it became clear: where there’s
smoke, there’s fire, and that left engine was in flames! In the flight deck, the engine failure alarm
was already going off, and the cabin was now starting to fill up with smoke. Captain Konstantin Parikozha and co-pilot
Igor Kravtzov had to decide within seconds on what they should do next. In such dire situations, there are certain
safety protocols that need to be followed in order to keep everyone safe. Pilots and crew don’t panic – they act. So, first, the pilots contacted air traffic
control, switched the flaming engine off, and turned the plane around and headed back
to Punta Cana for an emergency landing. As for the cabin crew, they made sure to keep
everyone calm and prevent panic from ensuing. Now, the biggest problem in this situation
(other than, ya know, the plane being on fire) was that, since they’d only been in the
air for 20 minutes or so, the Boeing-777 was still full of fuel – and lots of it! With 80 tons in the tanks, the huge jet had
been filled up to make the 12-hour transatlantic flight. All of this means that the risks for the emergency
landing were sky high. The plane was too heavy, so the danger was
that it would hit the ground too hard and ignite that jet fuel. But a skilled pilot can land a plane smoothly,
even if it’s too heavy and, thus, harder to glide down smoothly. However, there’s another problem when it
comes to landing overweight planes. You see, the heavier a plane is, the faster
it’s going when it touches the ground since all that mass has more momentum. So, it’ll require more braking, which leads
to more friction and heat being created, likely resulting in the landing gear catching on
fire. Put two and two together, and you quickly
understand that fire plus a full tank of jet fuel isn’t a good combination – this kind
of emergency landing could end with the plane exploding. Plus, they already had a fire on the left
engine! And to make matters even worse (I know, I
also thought it couldn’t get any more catastrophic), even if they still managed to land without
overheating the brakes or setting all that fuel ablaze, they still ran the risk of overshooting
the runway because the plane needed more distance to come to a full stop with such a high speed
and more weight. So, as you can see, the odds of performing
a safe landing were stacked against them. Normally, if a plane with a full tank needs
to make an emergency landing, it’ll circle the airspace over the airport several times
to burn enough fuel to reach a safe landing weight. This is called “fuel dumping” in the aviation
sphere. And it works well since planes use up more
fuel at lower altitudes. Even with one working engine, that would’ve
been an option had the other turbine not been on fire. But the real sense of emergency came when
the cabin started to fill with smoke. That meant the passengers’ and crewmembers’
lives were at risk RIGHT NOW. The pilots had no other choice: they needed
to get this jet on the ground and fast, even if it was severely overweight and the chances
of success were slim to none. The pilots had to act quickly, so that meant
landing with their fuel tanks full. The crew was mentally prepared for the worse,
but they wouldn’t let all those passengers recognize it. They kept their professionalism and were prepared
to do the best they could to land the plane safely with everyone on board calm and unharmed. The Boeing began to descend while the turbine
was still on fire. The captain and co-pilot turned the AC off
as well as the ventilation to avoid overloading the engine anymore than it already was. Then came the landing. They were, indeed, going too fast, they needed
to brake more harshly, the brakes overheated, and the wheels did catch on fire. But the pilots were prepared for that because,
like I said, that’s what happens when you land an overweight jet, especially one of
this size. While landing, the engine fire had stopped
for a moment. But once the plane made a full stop, it started
up again, this time even stronger. But what happened next was a true miracle. The plane managed to come to a full and smooth
stop without running out of runway. Immediately after that, the emergency evacuation
started. People were strictly instructed to leave their
belongings because this plane could explode at any minute. One-by-one, all passengers and crewmembers
got off the plane using the inflatable slides. The runway had already been closed to prepare
for the plane’s emergency landing (and probably for the worst-case scenario). Aircraft rescuers as well as fire fighters
were already at the scene trying to put out the fires. Miraculously, all 351 passengers got off the
plane safely without any injuries. The crew then followed. And right there on the spot, the plane’s
crew was met with applause. Not only did they manage to land the plane
safely while all the odds were against them, but they saved 371 lives professionally and
efficiently. After the landing, aircraft engineers carried
out all the necessary inspections and found out that the fire was caused by an engine
failure on the 11-year-old plane. But pilot error was not the cause here. Captain Parikozha had done all the necessary
safety inspections and examined the plane himself before taking off, and it appeared
that everything was working just fine. The chances of a problem popping up like that
and an engine failing during a flight are extremely low, but it does happen. Not long after the heroic landing, Captain
Konstantin Parikozha and co-pilot Igor Kravtsov were awarded The Order of Courage for handling
the situation so skillfully and saving everyone’s lives. Some passengers involved have even admitted
that they call February 10, 2016 their 2nd birthday. Yeah, I’d probably feel like I’d been
given new life too! So, Bright Siders, do you know any other stories
about amazing pilot landings? Please share them down in the comments! And if you’ve learned something new today,
then give this video a like and share it with your friends. But – hey now! – don’t take off just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to
check out. All you have to do is pick the left or right
video, click on it, and enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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