Air evacuations prompt legal action

Passengers evacuated from two aeroplanes during separate incidents just over a week apart have spoken of their concern at the way in which the "terrifying" ordeals were dealt with.

Craig Gourlay, 35, from Lanarkshire, said he and his family struggled to see as thick smoke filled the cabin of a plane which had just landed at Glasgow Airport on October 11. The Boeing 757, operated by Thomas Cook from Dalaman in Turkey, was evacuated on the runway.

Mr Gourlay said: "The cabin started to fill with thick smoke and we simply could not see how we could get out. It was truly terrifying. An air stewardess was screaming about a 'fire situation' so we moved as quickly as we could. I simply grabbed my son and jumped down the chute, but hurt my back on the tarmac at the bottom."

In a separate incident on October 19, a Jet2-operated flight was forced to abort its take-off from Glasgow Airport because smoke was detected in the cabin.

Elizabeth Rush, 70, from Lanark, suffered a leg injury in the emergency evacuation of the Alicante-bound Boeing 737. The retired nurse, who uses a walking stick, said she was looking forward to a break with her husband John, 71.

"The evacuation process was chaos," she said. "I was pushed down the emergency chute during the evacuation and as soon as I hit the bottom, a line of men came down after me and hit me."

The passengers have now sought legal advice, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, to demand that the manufacturers and aviation authorities explain the cause of the incidents and provide assurances that the problems will not be repeated.

In a statement, Jet2.com said: "A full investigation has been carried out and we are awaiting the preliminary findings from the AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch). Whilst we deeply regret any distress caused to our customers as a result of this incident we would like to reiterate that all safety and evacuation procedures were executed to the highest standards by our crew on the day. Any emergency response is always carried out with the passengers' safety as the primary concern."

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said: "We understand that the chutes at the rear of the plane were deployed in accordance with standard procedures to ensure the speediest route off of the aircraft for the remaining passengers. Our investigation is still ongoing."

A spokesman for the AAIB said: "The AAIB is investigating the incidents in Glasgow on October 11 and 19, and will publish a report on completion of each investigation."

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