Passengers were stuck on the wing of a plane during an emergency evacuation at Exeter airport, a report has found.
Crew on the Flybe flight to Alicante on 28 February 2019 reported smoke filling the cabin and cockpit during take-off.
An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said passengers escaping via overwing exits faced a “large drop” to the ground.
Some then re-entered the plane to find an alternative escape route, creating a “bottle-neck” in the cabin.
One hundred passengers and five crew members were on-board when a pilot noticed the smoke.
Some passengers who tried to leave via overwing emergency exits were “unsure” of what to do once outside and said it was unclear they were supposed to climb down, the report said.
The report said flaps on the wings which would have reduced the drop to the ground – which was more than 2m – were not fully deployed due to the speed the aircraft’s engines were shut down.
This meant many were “reluctant to jump or slide off the wing” and some re-entered the cabin in order to get to the escape slides.
Andy Feaver, who was at the front of the plane and exited via a slide, said it was “scary”.
He saw people standing on the wings.
“A lot of ladies and older people couldn’t jump off,” he said.
“Imagine if there was a fire in there, obviously you are going to jump but I think you would have broken your legs because it was so high.”
The report found the fumes were caused by cleaning chemicals left after overnight maintenance to the engine.
An internal investigation by Flybe, which went into administration in March, identified “a lack of specific training or assisting documentation” for engineers completing the task.
The AAIB made four safety recommendations relating to overwing exits.