Fire breaks out on Air Canada flight 797 at 35,000 feet. Can the crew get the wheels on the ground before the fire consumes the plane?

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Narrator (voice)
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Captain Cameron
Eric Murphy ...
First Officer Ouimet
Joseph Di Mambro ...
Sergio Benetti
LinLyn Lue ...
Laura Kayama
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Judi Davidson
Cora Kennedy ...
Dianne Fadley
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Connie Krisch
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Raymond Chalifoux
Dan Duran ...
Gregory Karam

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Fire breaks out on Air Canada flight 797 at 35,000 feet. Can the crew get the wheels on the ground before the fire consumes the plane?

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Release Date:

29 April 2007 (USA)  »

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Goofs

There's a closeup of an Ohio license plate on an emergency vehicle after the evacuation of the DC-9 on the runway. However, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport is located in Florence, KY (a 15 mile drive from Ohio). See more »

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Hazardous To Your Health.
30 November 2016 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

This is an unusual episode in a standout series about air accidents, because the material cause of the fire that downed the airplane and caused some twenty deaths is never identified with any certainty.

An Air Canada flight en route Toronto develops acrid smoke like burning plastic in its bathroom. Determining that it's something more than an overheated flush mechanism, the pilots look into it further and find a fire is burning somewhere in the toilet but there is no visible flame. After a brief attempt to suppress it the pilots finally declare an emergency and head towards the nearest large airport at Cincinnati. Most of the instruments are out.

But by this time the entire fuselage, which nothing more than a large pressurized aluminum and plastic tube, is filled with the lethal smoke. Some of the passengers may have already passed out, although the attendants have herded them all forward.

The DC-9 lands safely but passengers have trouble finding the exits because there is no longer any lights and the smoke-filled cabin is dark. Most of the passengers find their way to one of the emergency exits. The co-pilot escapes through the cockpit window and falls 30 feet to the runway. The pilot has to be sprayed with foam in order to move at all.

The emergency exits allow fresh air in. After a few minutes, the fire, which has been starved of oxygen and so has created only smoke, rushes through the cabin, killing those left on board.

Air Canada blames the pilot for a number of judgments or misjudgments that in retrospect seem minor. The proximate causes are a lack of training and equipment for the flight attendants. It's the 1970s and you can smoke in the toilets, although that didn't cause the fire. More effective fire-fighting equipment is introduced, and safety features such as lights on the decking or overhead tactical signals can lead to the emergency exits, which flight attendants are now instructed to point out.

One wonders, at this particularly point in time, post-election, 2016, whether these new rules and regulations interfere with the air transport profits. If so, should they be repealed? All of which raises the question of how much a human life is worth.


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