Dripping fluid to blame for smoke in cabin that forced jet evacuation at DIA

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DENVER — Delta Air Lines says fluid dripping onto a power unit created the smoke that forced passengers to evacuate a plane after it landed at Denver’s airport.

After flight 1854 from Detroit landed normally Tuesday night, passengers reported that smoke filled the cabin as the MD-90 aircraft was taxiing to the gate. Delta says the plane stopped and its 146 passengers used the plane’s slides and over-wing exits to escape the cabin.

Airline spokeswoman Lisa Hellerstedt said Wednesday that a small amount of hydraulic fluid dripped onto a hot power unit, creating the smoke that was blown into the cabin.

Investigators did not find any evidence of a fire on the plane.

Passengers said the landing was fine, and then there was smoke in the cabin. Denver International Airport said the emergency evacuation happened while the plane was taxiing to the terminal.

Delta Flight 1854 from Detroit landed about 8:10 p.m. The MD-90 aircraft had 146 passengers plus crew members on board.

Flight attendants alerted passengers to put something over their faces and to get down as low as possible.

“We didn’t get any clear instructions so people were like, hey, smoke,” passenger Paige Armstrong said. “Someone was whistling, people were yelling, everyone was pressing their buttons and then they opened the cockpit.

“The woman next to me may have been a flight attendant and she said they are checking with the pilot to see what was going on. And I said, ‘Why don’t they let us out?’ Then they did. Then everyone was very orderly and polite.”

All of the passengers were able to get off by using slides and over-wing exits. There have been a few reports of minor smoke inhalation.

“After arrival in Denver and during taxi to the gate, Delta flight 1854 from Detroit to Denver stopped on a taxiway where customers deplaned via slides and over-wing exits due to an observance of smoke in the cabin,” Delta said in a statement.

“Airport response vehicles met the aircraft out of an abundance of caution and customers were transported to the terminal via buses. The safety of Delta’s customers and crew is our top priority and we apologize for the concern this situation has caused.”

Airport operations were not impacted.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate what went wrong with the plane.


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