A HOLIDAY jet which had been evacuated when smoke filled its cabin at Glasgow airport had to be diverted during a flight the following day after pilots felt dizzy, investigators reported today.
The Thomas Cook aircraft, en route from Glasgow to Tenerife with 249 people on board, was forced to land in Manchester.
An official report into the scares last October concluded that the two pilots were thought to have been affected by fumes from oil involved in the repair of equipment which had caused the smoke incident.
The evacuation the previous day happened as passengers were disembarking from the plane after its arrival from Dalaman in Turkey.
Some 60 of the 231 passengers left the aircraft via three escape slides, with one “very minor” injury.
The rest exited as normal via an “air bridge” which connects the plane to the terminal.
Several of the passengers involved have sought legal advice amid concern at the way the incident was handled.
Craig Gourlay, 35, from Lanarkshire, said he and his family had struggled to see as smoke engulfed the cabin.
He said: “The cabin started to fill with thick smoke and we simply could not see how we could get out.
“It was truly terrifying. A stewardess was screaming about a ‘fire situation’. I simply grabbed my son and jumped down the chute, but hurt my back on the tarmac.”
The smoke was traced to a faulty auxiliary power unit, which provides electricity and air for air conditioning when the aircraft’s engines are switched off.
The unit had been switched on as the aircraft taxied from the runway to the terminal.
A blue haze was seen coming from behind an instrument panel in the cockpit and thick smoke at the front of the passenger cabin.
The UK Department for Transport’s air accident investigation branch (AAIB) said the unit was taken out of service but the aircraft was cleared for further flights.
The report said that as the Boeing 757 was about to depart for Tenerife the following day, the pilots noticed a “strong fuel/oil smell as engine thrust was increased for take-off”. It then appeared to subside as the aircraft climbed.
However, the AAIB stated: “As the aircraft reached cruise altitude, both pilots started to feel unwell, with some light headedness and dizziness.
“They donned their oxygen masks, made a ‘PAN PAN’ [urgentnot mayday] call and initiated a diversion to Manchester.”
A lavatory smoke detector activated, but there was no smoke or fumes in the passenger cabin.
The aircraft landed safely at Manchester airport, with the pilots being taken to hospital for checks and later discharged.
The report concluded: “No further faults were found and it was suspected that some residual oil may have remained in the conditioning or equipment cooling systems, after the previous day’s incident and associated engineering activity.”
A Thomas Cook Airlines spokeswoman, speaking at the time about the evacuation, said: “All our passengers are safe and well and our experienced crew deployed the chutes purely as a precautionary measure.
“We would like to thank the staff at Glasgow airport and our crew for their response and the continuing excellent care they offer all our customers.”
The incidents came days before 189 passengers had to be evacuated from an Alicante-bound Jet2 flight after its take-off from Glasgow airport was aborted by smoke in the cabin of the Boeing 737.