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.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, our crewmembers and an off-duty law enforcement officer onboard flight HA3 with nonstop service from Los Angeles to Honolulu restrained an unruly passenger who had attempted to open aircraft exit doors. The Airbus A330 aircraft, carrying 194 passengers and 11 crewmembers, landed without incident in Honolulu shortly before 1 p.m. and law enforcement officials met the plane upon arrival. Cabin doors are designed so they cannot be opened during the flight. We sincerely apologize to our guests for the inconvenience and we are cooperating with authorities in their investigation. -Hawaiian Airlines
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.
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. However, 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. Moreover, the doors are locked.
“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
Did you know about the reasons making it impossible to open a door mid-flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.