In an airplane emergency, everything has to happen quickly: extinguishing as well as the rescue of passengers. While the PANTHER is perfectly equipped for extinguishing, it has recently been supplemented at Heathrow Airport by the E8000/E3000 Escape Stair, a vehicle designed for the rapid evacuation of passengers in order to secure access for emergency crews.
A plane takes off or lands at London's Heathrow Airport every 90 seconds. 76 million passengers are handled each year. The ongoing intense activity also keeps the airport fire department on its toes: last year, it was deployed to 1,200 incidents. A very important task is delegated to the E8000/E3000 Escape Stair: using it, passengers can quickly and safely exit the aircraft in case of an accident. This makes it the perfect vehicle to complement the panther aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle.
The E8000/E3000 Escape Stair is designed to be used for both big jumbo jets such as the A380 and also smaller aircraft. With the staircase module, people can be saved from up to 8.5 m in height, while the front platform is used for rescue heights between one and three meters. In an incident, the 450 hp rescue staircase, built on a Scania P450 CB 6x6, can be brought to a speed of 80 km/h in just under 30 seconds. Thus, all locations within Heathrow Airport can be reached quickly. The operator can select the elevation to which the stairs are to be extended via the automatic height selection (HLCS) function. Almost all aircraft types are pre-programmed into the system, which greatly facilitates operation. The vehicle comes to a halt at a defined distance from the aircraft, and the stairs are automatically extended by the high-performance hydraulics. Once the correct elevation has been reached, the operator then takes over for the fine adjustment and docks the telescopic platform on the aircraft. It can extend for up to a meter and tilt up to 15°, which allows for complete adaptation to the aircraft's contour. The operator is assisted by proximity sensors and a video camera.
After docking, passengers can quickly evacuate the plane via the spacious platform. Thanks to the wide and deep steps (150 x 39 cm) three people can descend unhindered side-by-side. A special mechanism makes it possible for the steps to always lie in a horizontal position - no matter how far the emergency staircase is extended. For additional safety, the closed side walls and the folding ramp at the end of the Escape Stair enable a seamless transition to the ground. In addition, the staircase is equipped with bright illumination. The Escape Stair is furthermore equipped with a telescopic waterway and a 60 m rapid intervention hose reel. The front rescue platform is used for smaller and lower aircraft, or for access to cargo holds. Also, this platform can be swivelled for precise docking and, at 2.5 m, it is almost as wide as the main staircase (3 m). The staircase can be controlled from both the cabin and the two rescue platforms.
"The new Escape Stair is an excellent complement to our fleet. It provides our firefighters with a new option to access or exit the upper and lower decks of all aircraft in any situation. The ease of operation, in combination with pre-set elevations for all major aircraft types and the many safety characteristics make the E8000/E3000 an excellent airport rescue vehicle", says Senior Airport Fire Manager Gary Barthram from Heathrow Airport. With this Escape Stair, not only does the airport fire brigade have a new option, but also the pilots: you can rely on the Escape Stair as an alternative to an escape slide, which also saves the airport time and money.