FAA to review failure of oxygen masks on American flight at LAX

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the widespread failure of passenger oxygen masks aboard an American Airlines flight that made an emergency landing last week at Los Angeles International Airport.

Initial reports indicate that almost half the masks either did not deploy or failed to provide oxygen once passengers pulled the pin to activate the flow of air.

American Flight 31, a Honolulu-bound Boeing 757, had taken off from LAX last Tuesday morning but turned back about an hour into the trip when the pilot reported smoke in the cabin, airport officials said.

The plane’s 188 passengers and seven crew members evacuated by sliding down emergency chutes. Eight people sustained minor injuries. The incident also caused airport officials to temporarily close both of the busy airport’s south runways.

American Airlines officials said the incident was caused by oil spilled on a compressor in one of the jet’s engines. This caused a strong smell and a haze in the cabin, they said.

The FAA has been concerned about oxygen mask failures aboard certain types of commercial aircraft, including Boeing 757s and 737s. In May 2007, the agency issued an air-worthiness directive ordering airlines to correct oxygen mask problems by 2012.