PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It was a case of catastrophe meeting hours and hours of training, according to retired airline pilot Ron Nielsen.
At 4:14 p.m. on Tuesday, the Captain of the Boeing 777 called a Mayday as the plane's engine caught fire on take off from Las Vegas' McCarran Airport. Within five minutes, all 159 passengers and 13 crew members had evacuated the burning plane.
"It's amazing amazing how quickly you can go from a complete controlled set of circumstances when they release brakes on that takeoff, roll and a minute and a half later, they're in.. everybody needs to perform to save everyone's life," said retired airline Captain Ron Nielsen, who has flown 45 years and says constant training of pilots and flight attendants kicked in from the first sign of smoke.
"You've got people who are totally customer service oriented be nice and smiling, go into a complete opposite role.. to the point of being dictators because that's how everybody is going to live," he said.
Nielsen says he noticed in the pictures that all of the slides were not deployed -- again flight attendant training.
"That's one of the things that kicked in with the flight attendants. The first thing they are supposed to do is look through the window, assess to make sure there isn't a fire so they don't dump the people right in the midst of the emergency there."
13 people were treated and released from a Vegas hospital. Nielsen says the investigation will be in-depth and may yield some things they can improve going forward.
Airlines are always looking to learn from these events and perhaps change safety practices accordingly.
Nielsen teaches a free class to help people overcome their fear of flying, he has a class coming up this Saturday and knows the incident will be top of mind for discussion.
For more information visit: http://www.fearlessflight.com/