Aeroflot flight 1492 from Moscow to Murmansk crashed last week and burst into flames. While it appears the cause of this crash may be a lightning strike that reverted the fly by wire system to direct mode, causing pilot induced oscillations and a hard landing, another issue emerged during the emergency evacuation.
Several passengers clearly visible in videos were carrying baggage after evacuating the aircraft, perhaps resulting in additional time that cost the lives of some of the 41 passengers who perished and were unable to evacuate the front doors of the aircraft.
In looking at several recent evacuations, including the British Airways in Las Vegas, videos show several passengers with baggage coming down the slides. Seconds are critical in evacuations, and taking time to open overhead bins and retrieve baggage can be the difference between life and death.
One thing that can be done is to install locks on overhead bins. Yes, this will increase weight slightly, but having a switch that would lock all of the overheads when emergency exits are opened or the slides are deployed would eliminate the possibility of passengers delaying their exit during an emergency.
The 41 people who didn’t make it might have been 38 or 39 fewer had a thoughtless passenger not stopped for his or her baggage. At least one passenger was arrested shortly after deplaning for his thoughtless actions. If passengers can’t follow instructions, different actions should be taken to ensure safety in life and death situations.