Four Spirit Airlines flight attendants were taken to hospital on Friday after a Spirit Airlines flight from Minneapolis reported a medical emergency. The Spirit Airlines Airbus A320-200 was performing flight number NK-614 from Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) when the incident occurred.
According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft holding registration number N695NK was descending towards Baltimore when ten minutes before landing, a ground stop was implemented at BWI. With oxygen masks on, the pilots landed the aircraft safely on runway 10. Subsequently, they taxied to the apron where emergency services were ready waiting.
The incident was not related to COVID-19
The BWI Marshall Airport Fire and Rescue Department was waiting for the aircraft. This was after it was told that there were sick individuals on board the plane. When responding to requests from local media Spirit Airlines told CBS Baltimore channel 13:
“It’s important to note there is no evidence this incident has any connection to COVID-19, and none of the Guests and Spirit Team Members showed any symptoms of COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, first responders transported four flight attendants for evaluation. None of the Guests needed medical attention.”
Video from a news helicopter at the scene showed fire personnel wearing what appeared to be hazmat suits entering the plane as it arrived at the gate. CBS Transport Correspondent Kris Van Cleave tweeted that the four flight attendants had complained of feeling light-headed. Additionally, they were being taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Four flight attendants on @SpiritAirlines Flight 614 MSP-BWI are being checked out at a hospital after reporting feeling light headed during flight. Airline says not Covid related. No passengers experienced issues. Maintenance is checking the plane and it will be deep cleaned
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) July 10, 2020
None of the other passengers on the flight needed medical attention. However, according to Spirit spokesperson, they were issued with travel credits. Spirit went on to say that the aircraft will undergo maintenance and receive a thorough deep cleaning.
It could be related to the auxiliary power unit (APU)
Over the past few years, there have been numerous incidents of Airbus narrow-body planes reporting fume events across multiple airlines.
Several years ago, Airbus said that a failure to clean environmental systems following leaks could be the cause of odors in the cabin. It suggested that “a clean APU means clean cabin air.”
According to the manufacturer, one source of in-service contamination events reported on the A320 fleet is the APU. This results from either internal leakage or re-ingestion of oil following external leakage. However, it is worth noting that a noticeable cabin odor can be generated from ingesting only a minimal amount of oil.
Overall, these type of events seems quite scarce, given the number of flights every day. Nonetheless, this and other fume related incidents need to be addressed by airlines to make sure they do not occur at all.
What are your thoughts about this incident? Have you ever been on a plane that had an issue with fumes in the cabin? If so, please tell us in the comments about what happened and how it was handled.