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Precautionary Rapid Disembarkation

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Rapid Deplanement


Rapid Disembarkation is the urgent deplaning of passengers and crew from a parked aircraft utilizing the boarding entrance(s) and the associated airport infrastructure (jetway, airbridge or boarding stairs) or the aircraft airstairs.


There are a great number of activities that must take place to ready a large passenger aircraft for each flight. These include:

  • maintenance inspection and release
  • flight and cabin crew inspection and preparation
  • cleaning
  • refueling
  • catering
  • baggage and freight loading/offloading
  • passenger embarkation/disembarkation

Additional maintenance activity such as rectification of minor mechanical deficiencies or tyre changes may also be required and, where possible, will be accomplished at the boarding gate. Given the operational imperative to "keep the aircraft moving", every attempt is made to minimize the amount of time that an aircraft spends on the ground between flights. As a consequence, many of the activities listed above are accomplished concurrently. This often means that passenger offload or, more usually, passenger boarding is underway whilst the aircraft is being fueled, loaded and catered. In proximity to the aircraft in question, other planes are continuously arriving at or departing from adjacent gates, either under tow or self powered. There also is significant vehicular traffic in support of these aircraft.

Every effort is made to ensure that all ground support activities are carried out efficiently and safely. However, accidents occur, machinery malfunctions and situations sometimes arise which pose a potential risk to the passengers in the process of boarding. These risks might include, but are not limited to:

  • fuel spills
  • smoke or fumes, from a variety of potential sources, entering the aircraft cabin
  • proximal fire caused by malfunctioning support equipment or an accident

In such cases, the most prudent course of action is often the rapid disembarkation of passengers from the affected aircraft.




  • RJ1H, Zurich Switzerland, 2006 (GND FIRE HF) On 26 January 2006, an Avro RJ100 being operated by Swiss European on a scheduled passenger service from Hanover to Zurich had reached the parking gate at destination in normal day visibility when a flash fire occurred following the connection of ground electrical power. The commander ordered an emergency evacuation but since the air bridge was already in position at the aircraft, the cabin crew decided to carry out a rapid disembarkation and all passengers and cabin crew were off the aircraft within two minutes. A flight deck fire extinguisher was used against the apparent origin of the fire, the vicinity of the First Officer’s rudder pedals.
  • B763, Montreal Quebec Canada, 2013 (FIRE GND) On 4 November 2013, a Boeing 767-300 (CN-RNT) being operated by Royal Air Maroc on a scheduled passenger flight (RAM 206) from Casablanca to Montreal had just begun disembarking its 243 passengers after arriving at Montreal in daylight when a burning smell became evident in the passenger cabin. After the crew had established that the origin of the smoke was a fire in ground equipment close to the aircraft, an emergency evacuation was ordered. Seven passengers sustained minor injuries or were overcome by smoke of whom five were taken to hospital. Subsequent inspection of the aircraft found that it was undamaged.

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