Passengers in Russia recently suffered quite the scare after the rear door on an old, Russian-made Antonov AN-26 malfunctioned and opened mid-flight. Passengers items were suddenly sucked out of the aircraft into the frigid, below freezing air. In modern airplanes it is impossible for a cabin door to open mid-flight without any other damage. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and the flight had just taken off so the pressure change wasn’t extremely dangerous. But no matter what, passengers who thought they were just getting a short trip between two Russian cities received quite the surprise.
Shortly after takeoff of the Russian commercial flight, a “loud pop” resulted in the rear door of the AN-26 opening. The open door proceeded to suck out hats, luggage and thankfully no passengers as everyone has their seatbelts fastened. This forced the plane to immediately return to Magan in the Siberian region which was at -41-degree-Celsius. One passenger grabbed footage in the 15 minutes from the door opening to the emergency landing, showing the incredibly cold, wind-sucking nature of the flight. You can check out that footage below, via The Sun:
During the clip, one male passenger can be heard yelling,
“A man sitting at the rear of the plane was nearly blown away. He had just unfastened his seat belt. And he was almost blown out of the plane.”
The outdated manufacturing techniques of the Antonov AN-26 plane are surely the cause of this malfunction and you can almost certainly rest easy knowing the door on your next flight won’t just pop open.
According to Popular Mechanics:
A few things are in play on modern flights, including the curvature of the door that acts as a plug for the plane, the mechanical lock that prevents them from opening, and the cabin pressure that further renders them impossible to open mid-flight.
Older airplane designs didn’t feature specialized locks, especially on rear doors, or plans that prevented a rear door from opening, even in pressurized situations, because of its location on the rear of a plane without outside resistance.
The recent Russian flight encountered its malfunction shortly after takeoff, but as cabin pressure grows—airplane cabin pressure mimics 8,000 feet above sea level, so we aren’t physically harmed by the super-thin air and low levels of oxygen when we reaching our favorite cruising altitude—it can reach over 1,000 pounds per square foot of pressure on a cabin door, ensuring the door stays in place even if the mechanical locks were turned off.