South Korean plane door opens just before landing, passenger arrested

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Airplane door open during flight

A door opened just before landing on a South Korean Asiana Airlines plane. Police have arrested a 33-year-old man suspected of pulling the door handle.

The plane, an Airbus A321 with 194 people on board, was on its way to Daegu airport and landed safely. None of the passengers were injured.

However, a number of passengers panicked; they were taken to hospital with breathing problems. It’s not clear how the door opened.

A photo of the plane after landing shows an emergency door open. That may be the door that has been pulled open:

A photograph of the aircraft shows an emergency door open.

When an aircraft is in full flight, it is impossible to open the doors due to the controlled air pressure in the aircraft. It is not clear how high the plane was flying when the door opened.

That is why there are still many unanswered questions, says Joris Melkert, assistant professor of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft. “It could be that the door was not closed completely properly. It could be a technical problem. And then you have the question of whether it was done on purpose. That the man was arrested, of course says something. One thing is certain : this is not normal.”

Never strong enough

When a door can be opened again depends on the pressure control settings. “The pressure gradually returns to normal the closer an aircraft gets to the ground. But then you still have the airflow that keeps the door closed.”

According to Melkert, the aircraft must have flown very low in any case. “That was a few hundred meters at the most. If you are higher you are just never strong enough to get this done.”

But even then you can’t just open a door, says the aviation expert. “Such a door is locked during the flight. You really have to make an effort to open it. Anyway, normally no one tries to do this. Perhaps we have now come across something that requires a new technical solution to be able to do this as well. prevent the future.”

Strong construction

Melkert suspects that there was no direct danger to the passengers. “At a high altitude you run the risk of being sucked out due to the difference in air pressure. This applies in particular to the people who are sitting close to the door and who are not wearing their seatbelts. But because the plane was flying low and more or less was ready for landing, everyone on board had already fastened their seat belts.”

Furthermore, the construction around the door is very strong, says Melkert. “I don’t think there was a risk that the plane would fall apart and crash. I do think the plane will be inspected very carefully. There may also be some repairs to the door.”

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