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Tue, Aug 05, 2008

American Airlines Emergency Delays A380's LAX Arrival

Plane Evacuated Using Slides After Smoke Reported In Cabin

Tuesday was supposed to mark the grand arrival of the Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 at Los Angeles International Airport, complete with a water cannon salute. But the big airliner was upstaged by the emergency landing of American Airlines Flight 31, which had just taken off from LAX to Honolulu about 8:48am, when the pilot thought he smelled smoke in the cabin.

The Associated Press reports passengers were evacuated using inflatable chutes after an otherwise routine landing. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he could not recall the last time an aircraft deployed evacuation chutes at an airport. "You hear from time to time about planes returning to airports because an indicator light went on, but it's pretty rare that they actually deploy chutes," he said. "That's essentially up to the pilot, who makes the call based on the particular circumstance he or she faced."

City fire spokesman Brian Humphrey theorized that the pilot's decision was prompted by a full passenger load. The 757 was carrying 188 passengers and a crew of six. Humphrey said six passengers, including a child, were treated for bumps, bruises and other minor injuries. No evidence of an actual fire was ever found.

If there really had been a fire, circumstances could not have been much better. Fire trucks were already in position to spray a ceremonial water salute over the arriving A380.

Instead, the arrival of the Emirates plane was delayed 45 minutes by the emergency, and the water salute cancelled.



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