Fine or imprisonment: What happens if you open emergency door of a flight?

The passengers can only open the door when the flight is grounded as cabin pressure makes it impossible for the passenger to open the emergency door when the flight is mid-air

BS Web Team New Delhi

A passenger in an IndiGo flight between Nagpur and Mumbai reportedly tried to remove the cover of the emergency exit on January 24 and has been booked by the police. This is the second such instance in the past two months. On December 10, BJP member of Parliament (MP) Tejaswi Surya opened the emergency door on a Chennai-Tiruchirappalli IndiGo flight.
In the case of the former flight, the passenger was "appropriately cautioned" by the crew.

Can an air passenger open the emergency door?
The passengers can only open the door when the flight is grounded. Cabin pressure makes it impossible for the passenger to open the emergency door when the flight is mid-air. According to reports, it would require a strength of roughly 20,000 pounds to open the door during the flight.

However, when the flight is on the ground, the chances of a passenger opening the door are higher. It is much higher on ATR aircraft. Surya was travelling on one such plane.
According to a report by Deccan Herald, ATRs have no handle covers, and they look like grab handles in cars and buses. They can be mistaken for a support handle. Also, in ATRs, the seats next to emergency doors do not have an armrest. The passengers sometimes get confused and reach for the handle.

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The doors on ATR planes are "plug type". 
However, in other aircraft like Airbus or Boeing, the emergency doors are heavy. The airlines only allow able-bodied individuals to sit on emergency seats. The doors on these aircraft are "hatch type" and can be pulled down and shut if they open accidentally.

What happens if a passenger opens the emergency door?
Once the door opens, the captain receives an alert. The crew then intervenes and checks the reason for opening the door. It may lead to a delay in take off. After the inspection, the damage on the door is assessed.

The crew registers a case at the airport's police station. According to experts, a lot of paperwork is required, such as offering an explanation to the DGCA, before the plane can fly again.
Moreover, the passenger can be put on a "no-fly" list by the airlines or may even be imprisoned. However, this will depend on the complaint lodged at the police station.

First Published: Jan 30 2023 | 12:37 PM IST

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