TAMPA, Fla., June 23, Reuters - Eight people were slightly injured on Monday when passengers, apparently alarmed by seeing flames coming from an engine, inflated emergency slides and evacuated a plane at the Tampa airport, airline and fire rescue officials said.
The plane, a Delta Air Lines (NYSE
AL - News) Boeing 757 (NYSE:BA - News) bound for Atlanta with 167 passengers on board, was pushing back from the gate at Tampa International Airport when it experienced what is known as a "hot start," said Delta spokeswoman Peggy Estes.
Hot start is when fuel condensation forms overnight on an engine and a flame is briefly emitted when it is fired up for the first flight of the day, she said.
"Initial reports indicated that some passengers may have seen flames from (an) engine and some elected to open the emergency exits, automatically deploying chutes," Estes said in e-mailed comments.
Some of the passengers evacuated through chutes, while the rest followed flight attendants' instructions and got out through the normal exits, she said.
Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Bill Wade said eight people were taken to a hospital, mostly with soreness, bumps and bruises from landing hard after sliding down the chutes, but there were no life-threatening injuries.
"Subsequently ... you could see no damage to the aircraft, but I don't doubt that seeing fire coming out of the engine caused some concern," he said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Christopher White described the incident on Flight 1036 as "an uncommanded passenger evacuation," and added the FAA was looking into it.