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Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201500074
Date reported 31 August 2015
Concern title Cabin Safety during a recent flight on a Boeing 737
Concern summary

The concern related to the cabin safety issues during a recent Boeing 737 flight.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Cabin safety

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to cabin safety during a recent flight on a Boeing 737.

1. Business Class Life Jacket Location B737-800

The [passenger] Safety Instructions Card locates the life jacket either between the row of seats or under the seat.

The safety demonstration video reflects the content of the Safety Instructions Card and does not show the correct location for the business class life jacket.

On the actual aircraft the life jacket for the business class seats is in the foot-rest.

When the Safety Instructions Card and video discrepancies were brought to the attention of the cabin manager of the flight undertaken, she indicated:

  • The oversights were known
  • The mitigation adopted by the carrier is for the location of the life jackets in business class to be announced during the safety demonstration
  • On the flight in question, the Cabin Manager acknowledged that the announcement requirement had not been implemented, but did not subsequently inform the passengers of the issues.

It is not best practice to make such an announcement without also acknowledging that it is being made because the card and the safety video are in error.

Failing to correct such errors provides the employees and the passengers with a mixed safety message. It says in effect that the risk levels associated with the errors in the Safety Instructions Card and the safety video are not significant and that fixing them is not cost effective.

It has not gone unnoticed that the operator spends thousands of dollars to install new seats and then does not spend a fraction of the cost on amending the video and the safety.

2. Night time operations-cabin lighting for landing

On the flight in question, the cabin lights were turned down after the meal service and turned to normal day settings for the night landing into Melbourne.

International best practice is for the cabin lights to be dimmed at night for take-off and landing. This is aimed to provide the passengers and the cabin crew the opportunity to acquire ‘night vision’ for use in the event that the cabin lights fail for whatever reason.

Has the airline been granted an exemption in regards to this safety practice?

3. Cabin crew attire-high heel usage on take-off and landing

A number of the cabin crew on the flight wore high heels shoes for both take-off and landing. In some instances flat shoes were worn during the cruise portion.

The use of high heels is not permitted on the escape slides.

However, it is not demonstrated that the cabin crew will take off their high heels in an evacuation as they do not wear them during their emergency procedures training and as such it is not assured that they have ‘learned’ the skill.

In addition, in the event that they do take off their high heels to use the slides in an evacuation it is not demonstrated that a bare footed individual is able to perform any role outside the aircraft even on a smooth runway let alone rough terrain or conditions of temperature extremes.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Please note that due to the level of information in this REPCON the following is unable to be verified:

  • Aircraft registration
  • Date/Time of the flight

As a result, in responding to REPCON Number AR201500074 the following assumptions have been made:

  • The flight occurred during Australian winter
  • The flight departed and arrived as per current schedule

1. Business class life jacket location B737-800

  • When developing a new safety demonstration and safety on board cards, our change management process includes Human Factors consultation. As the foot rest is located under the seat, Human Factors advice was such that to include an additional lifejacket location, for a minor difference, in the safety on board card would be confusing for customers.
  • A Cabin Standing Order (CSO) was released in late 2014 due to the correct safety demonstration not being uploaded onto the inflight entertainment (IFE) system. This necessitated an additional public announcement (PA) that stated the safety video was incorrect in regards to the location of the lifejackets with the correct location given. When the correct safety video was loaded onto the IFE system, this CSO and the PA requirement was withdrawn in May 2015.
  • Due to the nature of its operation, we have multiple safety demonstration videos that the cabin manager must choose from. We have been clear about the decision process that the manager must use in order to select the correct video.
  • We believe that the screening of the incorrect safety demonstration video on the reported flight was a result of incorrect safety video selection and human error.

2. Night time operations – cabin lighting for landing

There are no regulations that reference cabin lighting settings for Australian registered aircraft.

The documented lighting policy and procedures are in accordance with the aircraft manufacturer's lighting settings which are as follows:

Economy cabin lighting guidelines (Boeing Sky Interior) Lighting setting
Evening services Meal/Beverage
Continuous Service Night/Sleep
Night Sectors Night/Sleep
Cabin Preparation Take-off/Landing
Pre-landing Take-off/Landing

 

The change in lighting setting from Night/Sleep to Take-off /Landing would have resulted in an increase in the lighting level. We believe that the narrative contained in this REPCON is consistent with this lighting policy.

3.  Cabin crew attire-high heel usage on take-off and landing

It is not a CASA requirement that airlines demonstrate to its customers that Cabin Crew will remove their high heels in an evacuation. 

It is not a CASA requirement that airlines demonstrate to its customers that a bare footed individual is able to perform any role outside the aircraft even on a smooth runway let alone rough terrain or conditions of temperature extremes.

We have documented the minimum heel print for high heels; this takes into consideration all of the duties of a flight attendant.

It is documented policy that cabin crew undergo annual Emergency Procedures training and recertification wearing full uniform, this includes all footwear. 

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the REPCON and is satisfied with the operator’s response.

 
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Last update 25 November 2015