Passengers at Cork airport used escape slides after fumes appeared in cockpit

More than 30 passengers used emergency exits after captain called for ‘rapid disembarkation’

More than 30 passengers on board a flight to London Heathrow used emergency exits and escape slides after the plane made an emergency landing in Cork Airport when fumes appeared in the cockpit, an investigation has found.

Emergency services rushed to meet the Airbus A320 which arrived into Cork airport at 1pm on November 2nd, 2017 after the aeroplane was forced to turn back and land because of fumes in the cockpit.

Flight crew on board the Airbus had noticed a burning smell earlier that day when the aircraft was descending into Cork Airport after travelling from London Heathrow, according to a report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) following the incident.

The captain switched off the cockpit floor heaters, suspecting they were causing the smell and the fumes appeared to disappear. However, shortly after taking off on its third flight of the day from Cork to London Heathrow, the “strong and persistent” fumes reappeared on board the flight. The crew put on oxygen masks, declared a MayDay alert and decided to return to Cork airport.


Once the aircraft had landed and taxied to a stand the captain made an announcement for passengers to begin a “rapid disembarkation”.

Most passengers exited using the front and rear steps but about 32 passengers used the overwing exits to disembark onto the aircraft wings. Half of these used escape slides while the other half returned to the passenger cabin and exited using the steps.

There were no injuries during the disembarkation but one passenger became unwell later and was taken to hospital, according to the report.

Investigators later concluded that the cockpit fumes had come from an avionics bay ventilation system.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast