Swedish investigators have raised concerns over aircraft door design after discovering that a perfectly functional exit was rendered useless during an evacuation because a flight attendant did not have the strength to open it, writes David Kaminski-Morrow.

The evacuation, from an SN Brussels Airlines BAE Systems Avro RJ85 at Gothenburg on 10 March, followed the collapse of the jet's nose-gear - an isolated event traced to an incorrectly manufactured component that prevented the gear from locking.

But although none of the 32 occupants was injured, the Swedish accident investigation board SHK has expressed concern over how easily the aircraft's left rear door effectively became inoperable.

The aircraft came to rest on its nose and the slight inclination of the fuselage was enough to prevent the female flight attendants being able to open the door fully and lock it in position - despite the aid of an 8kt (15km/h) wind blowing from directly in front of the aircraft.

The SHK says: "In a fully loaded aircraft with fire - or the risk of fire - in the forward section, such problems with the door could have had serious consequences."

It adds: "We find it remarkable that a door intended for emergency evacuation of an aircraft could not be secured, using normal physical strength, in its open position with such a small amount of inclination that results from a nose-wheel collapse."

It says the situation is "unsatisfactory" and that the European Aviation Safety Agency should ensure future door design does not result in physical strength becoming a decisive factor in an emergency.

Source: Flight International