A Emirates Boeing 777-300 crashed landed and burst into flames at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday.
Fortunately, the airline has confirmed that all 300 passengers and crew on board the flight made it to safety before the aircraft became engulfed in flames.
Which leads us to the question, how long does it take to evacuate a crashed airliner?
Believe it or not, federal regulations dictate that all modern airliners capable of carrying more than 44 passengers must be able to be fully evacuated in less than 90 seconds.
In addition, in order to be certified to fly, new airliners or even new derivatives of existing airliners must pass an evacuation test. The tests involve simulated emergency situations in which all passengers and crew must exit the aircraft in pitch-black darkness using only half of the available emergency escapes.
In 2006, the Airbus A380 superjumbo managed to pass the test by evacuating 853 passengers, 18 crew, and two pilots in just 78 seconds, Flight Global reported. The Boeing 777-200 passed the evacuation test in 1994 in 84 seconds, Quartz reported. The aircraft involved in the Emirates crash is an elongated 777-300. According to the AP, the aircraft was not subject to its own evacuation test. Instead, it was certified by extrapolating the test results of the 777-200 with the addition of two emergency exits.
These tests are generally conducted using the aircraft type’s maximum passenger capacity which means that aircraft in service are equipped with far fewer seats. For instance, the A380 was evacuation tested with 853 passengers. In operation these days, most of the superjumbos fly with around 500 seats.
However, it should also be noted that these test are also conducted in a laboratory conditions that are calm and organized. The hectic nature of an actual emergency evacuation may slow down the time it takes to empty an aircraft.
As a result, experts recommend that passengers select seats within three rows of an emergency exit. In addition, passengers should be aware of the location of the nearest emergency exit at all times.
Here’s a video of the Airbus A380 evacuation test: