Concerns As Smoke Onboard Thomas Cook Plane Forces Emergency Landing

Lawyers Say Answers are Needed and Warn Of Potential Impact Of Smoke Inhalation


By Dave Grimshaw

Specialist aviation lawyers have been approached by concerned passengers who were onboard a Thomas Cook aeroplane carrying hundreds of British holidaymakers from Mexico to Manchester which was forced to make an emergency landing in Bermuda after reports of a fire on board.

Smoke was reported in the cabin of Thomas Cook Airlines Flight 149 which was carrying 338 passengers over the Atlantic Ocean. A decision was taken to carry out an emergency landing in Bermuda as a precaution and the plane was evacuated in the early hours of Wednesday morning (1/05/2013).

Emergency services were quickly on hand at the airport in Bermuda and the Airbus A330 plane was then assessed by engineers.

Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing a significant number of passengers who were injured in three separate emergency landing incidents in the UK last year. Smoke in the cabin of two Thomas Cook planes forced emergency landings at Glasgow Airport and in Dublin while a Jet2 plane had to abort its takeoff in Glasgow because of smoke onboard.

Jim Morris, a former RAF pilot and specialist aviation lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Thankfully everyone who was onboard seems to have been evacuated safely but it is crucial that the investigators quickly identify exactly what caused the fire and publish a report of the findings.  It is vital that we find out whether this was a one off fault or something which may affect other aircraft, so that any future incidents can be prevented and flight safety improved.

“Reports from passengers suggest there was smoke coming into the cabin, which is extremely worrying.  Smoke in the cabin during flight is terrifying and for the passengers onboard this will have come as a huge shock, especially as they were returning home from holidays.

“The impact of smoke incidents in a cabin cannot be underestimated – smoke and the associated risk of fire can be catastrophic so is treated as a serious emergency, hence the crew made the correct decision to divert and make an emergency landing.  Even when there is just smoke, this exposure in itself can have serious consequences as it is possible that gases or fumes onboard flights can contain dangerous toxins which can potentially have a lasting impact on those exposed to them. Anyone concerned about this issue should seek medical attention.”

Jim added: “What is particularly concerning is that this the latest of a chain of cabin smoke incidents involving airliners. 

“It is extremely important that the aviation industry learns lessons and takes all measures necessary to minimise the risk of similar incidents occurring again.  These 4 incidents were serious but, thankfully, no one lost their lives.  If there are further incidents in the future, the outcome may not be so fortunate, with possible catastrophic consequences.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Air Accident Claims.