US Airways' A320s get door straps to mitigate slide deployments

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US Airways has added a simple strap to the forward and aft door operating handles on its fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft to mitigate accidental emergency slide deployments.

"So far this year, US Airways has experienced 20 accidental slide deployments, compared to 2009's year-end total of 23. Accidental slide deployments are not only an expense for the airline, they are also a matter of safety as they can cause serious injury when accidentally deployed," says US Airways in its latest employee newsletter.

"Enter a simple solution with a big impact - the red safety strap. In an effort to reduce accidental slide deployments, a new unique feature has been added to our fleet of Airbus (A319, 320 and 321) aircraft. The red strap crosses the forward and aft door operating handles and, when properly positioned, serves as a reminder for all personnel to verify the position of the arming lever."

The strap, which is attached by Velcro, also acts as a visual deterrent to anyone who may inadvertently grab the door handle instead of the arming lever, says the carrier, noting that the strap "does not serve as an indicator that the door is armed or disarmed".

Company director, corporate safety Joe Nester says that while the red strap "works great" it would not be effective without the adoption of a new process by the carrier's flight attendants.

The process requires flight attendants to leave the strap across the handle after a door is disarmed. When the door is opened from the outside, the red strap is automatically released. After closing the door for departure, flight attendants place the strap back over the door operating handle, says US Airways.