Easyjet EZY8772 Emergency Experienced by a BritsinCrete Member

The Easyjet flight EZY8772, yesterday (April 14) between Heraklion, Crete (IATA Code HER) and London Gatwick (LGW) and that diverted and made an "emergency landing" in Athens (ATH) due to suspected problems with cabin pressure (go to: a BritsinCrete eyewitness report) ) reminded me of the incident in 2005 when a Cyprus registered, Helios Airways B-737 flew into a mountain near Athens after sudden and complete loss of cabin pressure knocked everyone unconscious.

Aviation experts say that loss of cabin pressure requires an immediate response.
From earlier emergencies it was noted that passengers have 20 to 30 minutes to get the face masks on if the plane is flying at 18,000 feet, while those on a plane flying at 35,000 feet would have 30 seconds to a minute because oxygen is more scarce at higher altitudes, according to Federal Aviation Administration research in the event of a complete failure in cabin pressure.

Airline crews are trained to wear masks immediately when they hear the alarm that alerts the crew to a sudden loss of cabin pressure. Passengers and crew have more time to don their masks if the plane is flying at lower altitudes when decompression occurs.

In the case of the easyjet, EZY8772 incident involving an A320 plane, getting it down to low altitude was clearly the first priority of the captain and as quickly as possible in the event of the problem/fault in the oxygen supply turning serious.

Every Second Counts

So when the flight crew give us the emergency instructions at the commencement of any flight, it is seriously in our interest of survival to know how to carry out those instructions. For instance, many of us passengers do not realize that the instructions we receive about how to put on the mask and tug on the line to get the flow of oxygen going should be FAST, as in a matter of seconds.

If you noticed, several years ago the donning of oxygen masks instruction was changed to emphasize a person travelling with a child should put on their own mask first and then the child's. The reason according to the experts is that as adults we can pass out in a matter of seconds if oxygen supply suddenly drops - then we are no good to any children we may be accompanying.

There is another aspect of loss of oxygen/cabin pressure in an aeroplane - the temperature also rapidly drops along with the quick descent of the aircraft to lower altitude, to where there is more oxygen to draw upon.

I note from expert articles that the typical modern airliner's emergency system should provide passengers with about 10 minutes of an emergency supply of oxygen.

Easyjet Press Announcement

Easyjet were quick to issue an announcement and downplay the matter:

easyJet can confirm that flight EZY8772 on 14 April from Heraklion (Crete) to London Gatwick diverted to Athens Airport. The aircraft, an Airbus A320 with 137 passengers and 7 crew members on board, landed safely and uneventfully in Athens at 15.02 local time.

On route from Crete to London, the aircraft made a precautionary decent (sic) descent due to a technical issue with the pressurisation and air conditioning system. There was no requirement to deploy the passenger oxygen masks, and easyJet would like to stress that this was not an emergency landing, but merely a precautionary technical diversion.

Safety is easyJet’s number one priority and at no point of time was there any risk to the safety and well-being of our passengers. The passengers are currently at Athens Airport and as far as easyJet is aware none of them requires any medical assistance.

end quote--

NB: In the United States, aviation regulations require one member of a flight crew to wear an oxygen mask when flying at 25,000 feet or above if the another crew member leaves the cockpit for any reason. I am not sure if this applies in the EU.

The emergency procedure of the easyjet flight EZY 8772 from Heraklion to London Gatwick is a reminder of why you and I should not be so nonchalant over those pre-take off emergency announcements.

Read the first hand experience of a BritsinCrete passenger on the easyjet flight.