On Wednesday, October 28th, a man flying Hawaiian Airlines from Los Angeles to Honolulu attempted to open the plane’s exit doors during the flight. Crew members and an off-duty law enforcement officer were able to restrain the individual, who was subsequently taken into federal custody once the aircraft landed at its destination.
The incident took place on Hawaiian Airlines flight HA3 from Los Angeles to Honolulu on October 28th. This particular flight was operated with an Airbus A330-200 with registration N388HA. Onboard flight HA3 were 194 passengers and 11 crew members.
The aircraft departed Los Angeles at 10:20 and had a scheduled arrival time of 12:50 in Honolulu. According to Hawaii News Now, sometime during the flight, an ‘unruly passenger’ tried to open the aircraft’s exit doors. Crew members jumped into action and restrained the man.
A struggle with cabin crew
From what was reported by witnesses, a struggle ensued.
A former resident of Hawaii by the name of Keenan Kurihara made the following statement to Hawaii News Now:
“I wrapped my arms around him and I tried to separate him from the door and the flight attendant, and in the process, the flight attendant was hurt because he was so determined to get out, or stay attached to the door handle,”
Sources indicate that the Airbus A330 landed safely and without incident at Honolulu airport shortly before 13:00.
It should also be noted that the investigation into this incident is ongoing and there has yet to be confirmation regarding whether or not charges will be filed against the man.
What happens if you try to open the doors mid-flight?
To make a long story short, doors can’t physically be opened mid-flight. But let’s go into a little more detail to explain why it’s not possible.
The doors typically found on pressurized jet aircraft open in first, then out. This means that the door must first be pulled inwards to release the latch. Because the passenger cabin of a plane has a higher pressure within than the air outside, it is almost impossible for someone to open the door against this pressure.
In fact, if someone were strong enough (and the pressure weighs around that of five cars), they would rip the handle off long before the door opened.
“The difference can be as much as 55,158.1 Newtons per square meter (or 5,500 kg applied to 1 square meter). Basically, the door is sealed against the aircraft frame.” -Michele Meo, Professor, University of Bath via WIRED
In addition to this, doors are mechanically locked and controlled by the pilot.
Did you know about the two reasons making it impossible to open a door mid-flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Simple Flying contacted Hawaiian Airlines requesting a statement on the incident. However, at the time of publication, no response was received from the carrier.