***UPDATE: 01/16/20 @ 09:43UTC – Added statement from Finnair***
A Finnair flight attendant has been hospitalized after falling from an Airbus A320. The aircraft was parked at Helsinki at the time, when the FA apparently opened the aft door and tumbled to the ground. She is not in a life threatening condition, but has suffered some broken bones as a result of the fall.
We all have embarrassing moments at times. Tripping up the stairs, slipping on wet floors, bumping into stationary objects… Mostly we get to walk away with not much more than a small bruise and a dented ego. But some workplace accidents can be a whole lot more serious, and painful, as one Finnair flight attendant found out this week.
The Finnair employee, having arrived on a flight from Oulu to Helsinki, somehow managed to fall out of the aircraft door! That’s a significant drop of around 3.5m, and caused the poor FA some significant injuries. Here’s the story.
Finnair flight AY-450 was operating as normal, arriving into Helsinki from Oulu on the 13th January 2020. The Airbus A320-200, registered OH-LXD, landed uneventfully and taxied to the gate. As normal, the air stairs arrived and passengers disembarked.
However, for some reason, after all the passengers had deplaned, one of the flight attendants opened the aft door of the aircraft and promptly fell out.
While it sounds like a snigger-worthy event, you’ve got to admit that it’s a long way to fall. Approximately three and a half meters to be precise. That’s like falling from a second-story window of your average house, and onto a solid surface too.
The poor FA is reported to have suffered a number of fractures, including ribs and a collarbone. Emergency services took her to hospital where she is not thought to be in a critical condition. Finland’s AIB is investigating the incident.
Finnair told Simple Flying,
“On Finnair flight AY450 from Oulu to Helsinki 13 January a crew member was involved in a serious occupational accident. The crew member fell from the aircraft back door to the station platform where aircraft was parked. The employee was seriously injured and transported to a hospital.
“This is a rare and very unfortunate event. For privacy reasons we cannot comment further, however, the Safety Investigation Authority is conducting an independent investigation. Finnair takes all occupational safety issues seriously and will investigate the events leading to this occurrence to ensure this will not happen again.”
Why did she open the door?
The Av Herald, who originally reported the incident, has received further information giving us some clues as to why that aft door was opened.
According to their report, there were air stairs attached to the aft door during disembarkation of the aircraft. At some point, the door was closed. After everyone left the plane, the flight attendant opened the door to signal to the bus driver that everyone was off and that he could leave.
However, for some reason the bus didn’t leave. This meant that the air stair driver could not move the stairs away from the plane, a process they had already begun, and instead stopped some 1.5m away from the fuselage.
The flight attendant, noticing the bus hadn’t moved, saw the stairs in front of the door and went to open it again to re-signal the driver to go. What she didn’t realize was that there was a gap between the door and the stairs.
As a result, the FA fell through the gap between the aircraft and the stairs, and onto the apron below. The Av Herald reports that she suffered a broken collarbone and a couple of broken ribs, as well as some cuts to her head which required stitches.
This is a very rare event, but is not unheard of. Clearly something in the procedures went wrong. We wish the flight attendant a speedy recovery.