Planned and Unplanned Emergencies
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    Evacuating a Business Jet in an Emergency

    In my research for evacuations I have plenty of detail that refers to large passenger aircraft with lots of passengers.  But how do you evacuate a business jet that may only have a small number of passengers.  I have come to few conclusions which I will go into and these have been backed up by some data and stories I have collected from other colleagues. 

    Rule of 70%

    Firstly, the basic philosophy of an evacuation is to use all available exits.  So, if you call an evacuation, you have to expect all your exits to be used.  In business jets, the minimum number of exits is two although for a Gulfstream it can be five.  However, one thing to bear in mind is that in any disaster, about 70% of people will exit the way they came in, no matter if it’s the dangerous one.  This means you could expect most of your passengers to make for the main exit unless you tell them otherwise.  This is a good thing; the business jet emergency exit is usually small and it takes time to get all your passengers through it, especially when you consider the size of the window exits of the Gulfstream.  Howver, you could probably expect to lose one or two quick thinking passengers through the emergency exits.  However, if the main exit is blocked you will have to redirect the passengers to the other exit(s) quickly and forcibly.

    Rule of 10-80-10

    Another factor to bear in mind is the 10-80-10 rule.  After the initial shock of a disaster 10% of people react quickly to save themselves, 80% wait until told what to do and the final 10% react completely irrationally.  What would this mean to you in an evacuation? Probably not a lot - the passengers we carry are usually leaders or people used to forming plans and giving orders and they are likely to be in that first 10%.  These will be the people who will be outside the aircraft before you have given orders to evacuate if they see their life is threatened.

    • This is borne out by a story a colleague one told me of an incident on the Citation 550B.  They had one passenger and were just powering up the aircraft when a puff of smoke appeared between the PICs feet.  He said “evacuate?” in a quiet, questioning voice to get the attention of my colleague. However, the passenger heard and had raced forward, opened the main door, leapt over the steps without putting them down, and was racing to the FBO before the pilots knew what was happening!  This is an example of the 10% who react quickly to save themselves.

    Howver, in a full aircraft, during an unplanned emergency (being the type of emergency where an accident has happened with no prior warning given), you could probably expect most of the 10-80-10 rule to apply.  In which case you will need to motivate those remaining seated to leave the aircraft, and deal with the odd one or two who may be behaving ‘strangely’!

    Normalcy Bias

    Finally, consider how passengers will evacuate when it comes to it.  Not many people have been in an evacuation so they have no mental model of how to do it.  But what they do know is  how to leave an aircraft normally, so this is the mental model they will try and use in an evacuation – called ‘normalcy bias’.  So, during the evacuation, you could expect them to stand up, gather their belongings, switch on their phone, pack their bag and then leave the aircraft, unless told to do something different.  That’s where the crew come in – you have to motivate them to leave everything behind and leave the aircraft quickly. You called an evacuation because you thought there was a real danger, so get your passengers off quickly.

    Reader Comments (1)

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    October 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertiffany501

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