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Tue, May 30, 2023

Passenger Opens A321 Emergency Door In-Flight

Of Differential Pressures and Perspectives

South Korean police are holding a man who, on Friday, 26 May 2023, opened the portside, amidships (number-three) exit door of an Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 as the aircraft was attempting to land at Daegu, South Korea’s Gukje Gonghang International Airport (TAE).

The in-flight incident incited varying degrees of distress among the flight’s passengers—the entirety of which survived the occurrence.

The aircraft, which was inbound to Daegu from the island of Jeju—a popular vacation destination some 88-nautical-miles south of the Korean Peninsula—landed safely at 12:40 Korean Standard Time (GMT + 9).

Nine teenage passengers who’d been traveling aboard the flight were sent to hospital after claiming to have suffered respiratory issues.

An unidentified 44-year-old passenger stated: "I thought the plane was going to explode. ... It looked like passengers next to the open door were fainting.”

The antecedent claim is refuted, in part, by video footage shot by another of the A321’s passengers. Subject video shows passengers seated, lap-belts secured and armrests firmly gripped, enduring the baleful blast of relative wind with laudable comportment. Excepting badly mussed hair and clothing set wildly aflutter, the individuals seated throughout the Airbus’s cabin—even those in the exit-row adjacent the open door—externalized about the same degree of discomfort as moviegoers sat before a Disney Star Wars film.

South Korea’s transport ministry set forth in a statement that the man who’d opened the aircraft’s door had been taken into custody by local police under suspicion of having violated aviation safety laws.

A transport ministry official confided South Korean authorities were looking into Asiana Airlines’ handling of the incident.

The doors of pressurized aircraft, to include emergency exits, comprise aneroid-wafers—pressure-sensitive devices that render egress from in-flight planes a practical impossibility. Aneroid devices measure differential pressure. As the Asiana A321 was at a low altitude (656-feet AGL) at the time of the incident, the aneroid-wafer within the wrongfully-opened door sensed negligible differential pressure. Ergo, the suspect was able to open said door—albeit not easily.

An Asiana spokesperson stated the aircraft was minutes from landing when a male passenger seated beside one of the Airbus’s emergency exits gained access to the door’s actuation lever and pulled such, thereby instigating the incident.

As the flight was well into its approach and landing segment, the aircraft’s passengers were, in accordance with standard airline procedure, seated with their lap-belts fastened.

Professor Sohn Myong-hwan of the aviation maintenance department of South Korea’s Sehan University remarked: "It is particularly dangerous during landing and takeoff, so someone from the flight staff should have stopped that passenger. To me, it seems difficult for the airline can get away from any potential responsibility here.”

Readers familiar with the airline industry will note Professor Sohn Myong-hwan’s understanding of the realities with which airline cabin-crews contend derives wholly of textbooks and not-at-all of experience.



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