British Airways staff reveal how an plane’s evacuation slide actually works

british airways

It’s something we all hear about during an airplane safety demonstration, but for most of us, hopefully it’s something we’ll never actually have to use.

The evacuation slide.

While it’s exceptionally rare that it would have to be deployed, every commercial aircraft is fitted with an inflatable slide should there be an emergency where customers need to get off the aircraft quickly and safely.

Now, British Airways ground staff has given us a glimpse into exactly how the slide works, in a new behind-the-scenes video where they deploy a Boeing 777-200’s slide during a series of safety checks at London Gatwick.

Boeing 777-200 planes are fitted with eight slides for maximum safety and efficiency – and these are all checked almost on a daily basis by highly trained engineers to ensure that they work properly.

To operate the slide, engineers open the aircraft door in the ‘automatic’ position, which automatically causes the inflatable to deploy.

It’s an impressive sight, as the huge inflatables can be up to 14 metres (or 46ft long) – and yet it takes just six seconds for it to roll out, inflate and be ready for passengers.

A speed we imagine comes in handy during an emergency.

In the clip, British Airways licensed engineer Peter Dyer explains that to activate the slide, cabin crew need to put the door to ‘automatic’ and pull the door handle to 180 degrees, at which point an assist system will take over.

He expanded: “It will fire the squib, the nitrogen pressure in the bottle will power open the door, the slide pack will fall off and then the slide will inflate in six seconds.”

Oh, and if you’ve ever heard cabin crew being asked to ‘cross check’ a door, there’s a simple explanation.

Doors need to be set ‘to automatic’ or ‘manual’ prior to take off and landing so that they’re ready for an emergency – so cabin crew need to make sure they are in the correct position.

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