Aviation Law Experts Call For Action After Two Incidents In Two Months Involving Same Type of Aircraft
Aviation lawyers representing passengers injured and severely traumatised when a Ryanair flight unexpectedly plunged 20,000 ft due to cabin pressure problems are calling for the airline, Boeing and aviation authorities to provide answers over both their ordeal and a similar incident just two months earlier.
Melvin and Jacqueline Frater, from Nottingham, are being monitored by health experts following the serious cabin depressurisation, which was accompanied by a burning plastic smell, on the Boeing 737-800 on April 4th 2012 and have revealed how they were among more than 100 passengers who feared for the worst when the captain declared ‘mayday’ as they plummeted towards the mountains below.
The flight from Bergamo, near Milan to East Midlands Airport was diverted to Frankfurt following the emergency descent, which led to the release of oxygen masks and a scenario the couple have described as ‘something out of a disaster film’. An investigation is continuing into the incident after a total of 13 people were physically injured.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation law team has been instructed to act on behalf of the Fraters and has received a growing number of calls for help in relation to the incident.
The team is calling for Boeing, Ryanair, the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation and other international aviation authorities to provide urgent answers over both this incident and a similar one during a flight from Bergamo to Charleroi in February this year.
Jim Morris, a former Boeing AWACS pilot and Partner in the team, said: “The first-hand reports we’ve had reveal the terrible ordeal faced by the passengers on board the Bergamo flight and it is apparent that answers are urgently needed over how this decompression happened.
“It is deeply concerning that this incident occurred just months after another 737-800 suffered the same problem during a flight from the same airport.
“We would urge Boeing, Ryanair and authorities to work quickly to explain both of these incidents to determine if there is any link and whether there are potential safety implications for other 737-800s. Lessons must be learned as soon as possible to ensure flight safety can be improved and similar problems are avoided in the future.”
Melvin and Jacqueline, who are both 55 and from Nottingham, are being monitored for eardrum damage due to the rapid depressurisation in the flight. The couple were travelling from Bergamo on flight FR1703 following a holiday in northern Italy when, just 20 minutes into the flight, they began to fear for their lives.
Melvin recalls: “Everything was as you would expect it to be on the flight and then all of a sudden there was a bang and the plane began to drop.
“We then overheard the pilot shouting ‘mayday’ and at that point I just assumed the worst. When the oxygen masks dropped from above us it was like something out of a disaster film, but we all tried to stay calm. Eventually the plane levelled out and we were given an explanation of what happened.”
After reaching Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the couple and around 100 other passengers were transferred to a different flight back to East Midlands Airport.
Melvin adds: “After what happened we were so relieved to reach the ground in Frankfurt and although I think most people were terrified to get on the second plane we just wanted to finally get back home. We’re both still desperate to know why this happened, particularly as we still do not know the damage that it has caused to our health.
“We may not be the only passengers who have suffered such problems, so it’s obvious that we need to know more about what happened and how people will be kept safe going forward.”
Jim Morris added: “Decompression during a flight is an incredibly serious issue and, while rapid descent is part of the emergency drill for such a situation, it does pose significant risks to passengers.
“We are determined to help the Fraters and the other passengers we represent get the answers they deserve, as well as gain reassurances that Boeing, Ryanair and the airline industry as a whole is working to discover how similar problems will not be repeated.
“Beyond the immediate flight safety issues, in the absence of an accident report, we are conducting our own investigations into the Boeing 737 pressurisation systems and are advising our clients on what we think caused this accident.
“At this stage, on the limited information available, it is possible that a fault with the aircraft may have caused this problem - we hope that there is a prompt accident report to confirm whether this is correct and what actually happened.
“The answers provided will determine who should be held to account for the passengers physical and trauma injuries, be it Boeing via a product liability action in the US or Ryanair via proceedings in the UK or Italy.”