A British Airways flight from London to Spain had to commence emergency evacuation after the cabin was filled with smoke. Flight BA422, utilizing an Airbus A321-200 aircraft, was travelling from Heathrow to Valencia on Monday afternoon when the incident happened. All 175 passengers and 8 crew members evacuated safely. British Airways confirmed a "technical issue" as the cause.
Passengers said that the incident was "terrifying", and "felt like a horror film." They were also shouting that they could not breath.
A passenger named Lucy Brown, said that the smoke had been thick with a metallic, chemical odour. "We covered our mouths with our clothes. We don't know why oxygen masks didn't deploy," she said.
Apparently, passenger oxygen masks on all commercial aircraft only deploy due to loss of pressurization. They do not usually deploy at low altitude even when smoke fills the cabin.
According to British Aiways, three passengers were taken to the hospital following the incident as a precautionary procedure. They had already been discharged.
The incident happened during landing approach. All passengers were evacuated safely by the crew and were met by airport emergency services.
In a statement published on their website, the British Airline Pilots' Association otherwise known as BALPA, said that they believed the pilots landed the aircraft wearing full oxygen masks and goggles. Passenger oxygen masks were not deployed because they, "unlike pilot and cabin crew oxygen systems, are not designed to be used in smoke events as they mix the oxygen supply with the ambient air."
Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, said in a statement that "Pilots are highly trained and ready to handle emergencies of all kinds, but when one happens, the only thing that matters is whether the job gets done,"
"In this case, the pilots and crew appear to have done an excellent and highly professional job of getting this aircraft safely onto the ground in very difficult circumstances, and safely evacuating all the passengers with no reported serious injuries," he continued.