It’s something that most passengers hope they never have to use but does that stop you wondering how an emergency slide works?
It is extremely rare for an aircraft’s slides to have to be deployed, every commercial aircraft is fitted with a number of them, to ensure that in the event of an emergency, customers can get off the aircraft quickly and safely. On aircraft like the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, the huge inflatable slides can be up to 14 metres (or 46 ft) long.
As an airline that puts safety as its highest priority British Airways has created a behind-the-scenes video showing how the slides work.
During the film, British Airways licensed engineer Peter Dyer explains that every British Airways aircraft is fitted with evacuation slides, and these systems are checked on an almost daily basis. The airline’s highly trained engineers also frequently ‘blow’ the slides to ensure they work properly.
The aircraft shown in the video is one of British Airways’ Boeing 777-200 planes at Gatwick, which is fitted with eight slides. Peter Dyer explains that if the aircraft door is opened when it is in what is known as the ‘automatic’ position, the slide will automatically deploy. Incredibly, it takes just six seconds to fully roll out.
If you’ve ever heard cabin crew being asked to ‘cross-check’ a door, Peter explains that ‘Doors to automatic’ or ‘manual’ are the positions the door needs to be in prior to taking off and landing, so that they can be used in an emergency. Cross-checking is a way of cabin crew making sure that they are in the correct position. They shouldn’t be armed (ie, with slides ready to inflate) when the aircraft is about to arrive at the stand to start disembarkation.