The bizarre actions of one man sent an entire plane full of passengers into a panic earlier today after he opened the door of their aircraft while it was still in flight. His actions sent high-speed winds whipping through the cabin as petrified passengers clung onto their armrests, which can seen in an onboard video of the incident.
The Asiana Airlines flight was en route from Jeju island, off South Korea’s southern coast, to Daegu, a city situated about 150 miles south of Seoul. It was on approach to land at its destination airport—still at an altitude of about 700 feet, and maybe two to three minutes from touching down—when a man in his 30s, who was sitting in the emergency row, apparently managed to open the aircraft door.
Despite his inexplicable actions, the plane did land safely, Asiana Airlines told CNN. The airline confirmed that there was a total of 200 people on board at the time, 194 of whom were passengers. The Daegu Fire Department said that a dozen of them suffered minor injuries stemming from hyperventilation, while nine were sent to local area hospitals for treatment.
After touchdown, local police arrested the perpetrator, who is now being investigated for his violation of South Korean aviation law, the nation’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport revealed in a statement. The Aviation Security Act prohibits passengers from operating aircraft doors, exits or equipment inside the plane, violations of which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Daegu police said that the unnamed man confessed to opening the airplane door, but would not explain why he had done so.
Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas called the incident “very bizarre” and told CNN, “Technically, it’s not possible to open those doors in flight.” He explained that the landing speed of an Airbus 321 like this one is roughly 150 knots (172 mph), so an airstream of that velocity would have been passing over the fuselage when the door, located behind the wing, opened.
“It seems implausible that the door could be opened in the first place and then against the airstream technically impossible, but somehow or another it has happened,” Thomas said.
Asiana Airlines told the outlet, “The airplane is automatically set to adjust the pressure of the cabin according to the altitude of the aircraft. When the aircraft is high up in the air, it is impossible to open the door, but when the altitude is low and close to landing, the door can be opened.”
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