Jet evacuated after emergency landing

August 5, 2008 5:17:24 PM PDT
Passengers were evacuated by inflatable chutes Tuesday after a Honolulu-bound airliner made an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport because someone smelled smoke in the cabin. No sign of fire was found on the aircraft.

Six passengers, including a child, were examined at the scene for bumps, bruises and other minor injuries, city fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

American Airlines Flight 31 to Honolulu, carrying 188 passengers and six crew members, took off from the airport at 8:48 a.m., American spokesman Tim Smith said.

A short time later, the pilot decided to turn back.

"They had some type of smoke or odor in the cabin," Smith said.

The Boeing 757 landed about 57 minutes later and "the captain elected to declare an emergency and get everybody out of the aircraft via the slides," Smith said.

Most passengers left on a later flight and were due into Honolulu more than five hours later than originally planned, Smith said.

Fire crews using thermal imaging cameras scanned the cabin and cargo hold "and thus far found no evidence of an active fire," Humphrey said.

He said the airline, the National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he could not recall the last time an aircraft had to deploy evacuation chutes at the airport.

"You hear from time to time about planes returning to airports because an indicator light went on, but it's pretty rare that they actually deploy chutes," he said. "That's essentially up to the pilot, who makes the call based on the particular circumstance he or she faced."

Smith said one reason the pilot deployed the chutes was the aircraft was totally full of passengers.

The American flight landed as fire crews were preparing for a publicity event at the airport. Fire trucks were supposed to spray streams of water to welcome an Airbus A380 - the world's largest jetliner - flown by Emirates Airlines.

The American emergency landing delayed the Emirates flight for about 45 minutes, and the water cannon ceremony was scrapped, said Erin Franklin, a publicist for the event.


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