Captain Dan, I’ve read your column about the Airplane Engine Fire with interest. What happens if there is a fire in an airplane cabin or a cargo compartment ?
Question asked by Andrea
Cabin or cargo fire is also a serious situation that must be dealt with very quickly, before the fire spreads. There are fire extinguishers in the passenger cabin to deal with all types of fires, from paper to electrical. Flight attendants are trained to fight cabin fires.
Pilots are also trained in fire fighting techniques, however in the case of a fire in the cabin, pilots’ job is to land the airplanes as soon as possible. Should there be a lot of smoke in the cabin, there are smoke hoods with breathing apparatus for the cabin crew to use. Pilots can also perform procedures for smoke removal from the cabin. Washrooms are equipped with smoke detectors and fire alarms. Ever since smoking has been prohibited on large commercial airplanes, the likelihood of cabin fires has also been greatly reduced.
A fire in the cargo hold of an airplane is serious as well. Cargo compartments on large commercial airplanes are equipped with fire detection, fire extinguishing and fire suppression systems. Airplanes flying over oceans and long distances away from airports, must have fire suppression systems with sufficient capacity for duration of the flight to reach a suitable airport. For most large commercial airplanes this would be up to 3 hours duration. An airliner cannot fly further from a suitable airport, than the capacity of the cargo fire suppression system allows. Pilots and flight dispatchers during preflight planning ensure that the route to be flown will be within that limit. They also ensure that the weather and conditions at suitable airports along the planned route of flight are such that should the pilots have divert the flight to one of those airport, they would also be able to land there.
A bit more about Captain Dan:
Captain Dan Baz enrolled in Flight School at the age of 16.
He has completed studies in Aircraft Engineering and Master of Business Administration. He has been at the controls of many different types of aircraft, from single engine Cessnas to large intercontinental jets on global routes.
Over the last four decades he has flown thousands of hours up in the blue sky.
Have a question for the Captain ? Send it to Captain Dan Baz firstname.lastname@example.org Every week a question from the readers will be selected and answer posted in this column.