2013年2月15日

Terror at 27,000ft: crew plug A380 superjumbo door with blankets after it 'blows open midflight'

A British tourist told yesterday of his flight of terror when he claims an emergency exit on a superjumbo blew open at 27,000ft.
David Reid and his son Lewis feared a bomb had gone off after hearing a ‘massive explosion’ two hours into their flight on the brand new £250million Emirates Airbus A380.
Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged after the door in business class came an inch and a half ajar, leaving a gaping hole, said Mr Reid.
The scene was captured by passengers David and Lewis Reid on their flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong on Monday

THE PERILS OF CABIN PRESSURE

An open door on an aircraft is a serious emergency because it leads to a sudden loss of cabin pressure.
Oxygen levels inside an aeroplane have to be carefully controlled because the air in the atmosphere gets ‘thinner’ – it contains less and less oxygen – the higher you climb.
Cabins of planes cruising above 12,000ft are kept pressurised to mimic conditions at around 6,000ft and keep up the levels of oxygen. 
A sudden rush of ‘thin air’ from outside can cause passengers and crew to experience ear and stomach pain, or even black out due to lack of oxygen.
Rob Hunter,  of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said: ‘For a door to open or for a significant gap to appear is extremely rare.’
As passengers wept in terror, he said, a petrified stewardess ran down the aisle and screamed ‘the door’s going to go’ before cowering behind her seat.
Astonishingly, according to Mr Reid, instead of making an emergency landing, the crew decided to stuff blankets and pillows stuck together with gaffer tape into the hole and continue the flight despite a horrendous droning noise and sub-zero temperatures.
The drama happened on Monday as the two Britons flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong as part of what was planned as a ‘trip of a lifetime’ after Mr Reid had spent months battling leukaemia.
He said: ‘We were about two hours in when suddenly there was a huge blast.
‘It was a real shock, so loud that I thought a bomb might have gone off. Air was gushing into the cabin like a gale.
'The stewardess jumped up and stared at the door. Her face was drained white.
'She ran up the aisle, grabbed the intercom and started screaming, “The door’s going to go, the door’s going to go!” Then she hid under her chair.
‘Other passengers were crying and saying “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go down.”
'It was complete panic. The emergency door was ajar and leaving a gaping hole. You could see straight out into the atmosphere, 27,000ft up.’
Mr Reid, who has a private pilot’s licence, said that after several moments of confusion, the cabin crew started grabbing blankets and pillows which they stuck together with duct tape to fill the gap. 
He added: ‘This is a state-of-the-art plane but they were using the most crude method you could imagine to try and plug the hole.
 

‘The conditions were terrible for the rest of the flight. The door continued to make a horrendously loud droning sound which made it impossible to speak to each other.
'Worst of all, it was absolutely freezing.
‘It was an extremely nerve-wracking experience for everybody.’
He said cabin crew closed the curtain between business class to stop those in the economy cabin below discovering what was happening.
David and Lewis Reid were flying on an Emirates Airbus A380, like this one, when the incident happened on Monday
David and Lewis Reid were flying on an Emirates Airbus A380, like this one, when the incident happened
Mr Reid claims he suffered a chest infection following the ordeal and the pair had to cut short their £4,500 trip.
His 18-year-old son reported the incident to the Department of Transport’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch who have passed it on to air investigators at the United Arab Emirates General Authority for Civil Aviation.
An Emirates spokesman said: ‘We can confirm there was a whistling noise emanating from one of the doors on the A380 upper deck on flight EK384 between Bangkok and Hong Kong on Monday, February 11. At no point was the safety of the flight in jeopardy.’
An Airbus spokesman said: ‘It is not possible for a cabin door to open on an A380 or on any aircraft whilst in flight, as doors open inwards and have locking mechanisms.’

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