Saturday, July 27, 2013

72 hours before fire, Boeing oven severely scalded air hostess

A day after an oven aboard one of Air India's much-touted Dreamliner aircraft "caught fire" in midair, just two months after the national carrier resumed flights on the glitch-hit Boeing 787s, it has been found that it was not the first but the second such incident on that very aircraft within a span of 72 hours.

The same aircraft was flying from New Delhi to New York on June 22 when the oven overheated and a crew member of the flight (AI 115) sustained burns and had to be rushed to a hospital by paramedics at Heathrow airport. An Air India official told Mirror, "The crew member has toasting bread for a passenger. But when he opened the over, hot water gushed out instead."

Captain Nivedita Bhasin, who was commanding the fligh contacted the Heathrow Airport where paramedics were on standby. Upon landing, the crew member was rushed to a hospital.

In her flight report, Captain Bhasin had mentioned the faulty oven. "A repeat of the incident just proves that the report was overlooked," a cabin crew member said. Not just was the oven left unchecked, the first-aid kit was not refilled with ointments and creams that had been used up in the New York-bound flight.

An Air India spokesperson said they had reported the incident to Boeing. While only an investigation will reveal what caused the blaze, it comes after a series of mishaps that have dogged Boeing's Dreamliner planes, which boasts of being made of cutting-edge, fuel-saving technology largely through the use of composite materials that help save on weight.

Rajni Arora, Senior Manager - Operations, Air India, issued a circular on precautions measures while using ovens on Boeing 787 aircraft.

The circular reads, "Crew to avoid any burn injury should have an absorbent rag, paper napkins immediately available to soak excessive water. Stand back when opening the oven, Open the door slowly in the case of hot water." Reacting to this the crew members said, "Rags and paper napkins will only add fuel to the fire. It will also block the emergency exit door."

"It is amusing that a circular was issued even before two crew members who were injured could give their statements to the management. Their statements would have helped in framing rules," an air hostess said.

DGCA chief Arun Mishra said, "Prima facie it seems to be an issue with the oven and not with the aircraft as such. We have sought a report and only an investigation will give us the reason."

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