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.

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 which prevented the gear locking.

But although none of the 32 occupants was injured, the Swedish Accident Investigation Board (SHK) has expressed concern over the ease with which the left rear door effectively became inoperable.

The jet came to rest on its nose and the slight inclination of the fuselage was enough to prevent the female flight attendant’s being able to open the door fully and lock it in position – even despite the aid of an 8kt wind blowing from directly in front of the aircraft.

“With only 28 passengers and the front emergency exits available, the problem with the rear door should not have had any decisive effect on the execution of evacuation,” says the SHK, but adds: “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.

“SHK finds 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 that the situation is “unsatisfactory” and that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) should ensure future door design does not result in physical strength becoming a decisive factor in an emergency.

Source: FlightGlobal.com