Evacuation of the plane at Stansted Airport was hampered by passengers who had removed their hand luggage. This resulted in an investigation.
An eyewitness told investigators that about half of the 169 travelers took their hand luggage from under their seats and lockers before leaving the plane on emergency slides.
Several passengers said they were “handicapped” by these people and called on them to leave their bags, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Division (AAIB) said.
The incident concerned an Airbus A320 aircraft belonging to the Austrian airline Laudamotion, which suffered an engine failure when it started a flight to Vienna on March 1 last year.
According to flight rules, airlines must be able to evacuate all passengers and crew within 90 seconds.
Investigators said it was not possible to determine how long the evacuation at Stansted took, but the “hand luggage” problem had “probably slowed down”.
Problems caused by passengers taking luggage with them during an evacuation are “well documented,” the report said.
Flight attendants who discover passengers with luggage must remove and store them – which can be an obstacle – while luggage removed from an airplane can damage emergency slides or injure other people on the slides.
The report says this has been “a long time problem” since 14 previous incidents were listed, including one in September 2015 involving a British Airways plane that caught fire at the launch in Las Vegas.
The AAIB found that the Stansted episode shows that “this risk will persist in future emergencies unless additional measures are taken”.
It has been recommended that European Aviation Safety Agency commission research to determine how to prevent passengers from obstructing the evacuation of airplanes by collecting hand luggage.
The Royal Aeronautical Society previously urged airlines to consider introducing an overhead container locking system that does not include emergency equipment during takeoff and landing.