Event Details

Title:Insecure door in flight, Boeing 747-236B, G-BDXK
Micro summary:A door would not close securely, prompting a diversion of this 747.
Event Time:1996-11-02 at 2330 UTC
File Name:1996-11-02-UK.pdf
Publishing Agency:Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB)
Publishing Country:United Kingdom
Report number:EW/C96/11/2
Diversion Airport:Gatwick Airport, London, England
Site of event:Near Gatwick, Sussex
Departure:Gatwick Airport, London, England
Airplane Type(s):Boeing 747-236B
Flight Phase:Climb
Operator(s):British Airways
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Diverted to:Gatwick Airport, London, England
Executive Summary:When the crew checked in for the flight on the evening of 2 November 1996, they were informed that there was a problem with door 4L, but that the engineers were confident that the aircraft would be declared fit for service at or near the scheduled departure time. This proved to be the case and the flight engineer checked the door for satisfactory operation. However, due to a recent history of problems with this door, the cabin crew responsible for it were briefed to monitor it after take-off and keep the flight deck informed of anything untoward.

Immediately after take-off, the door handle was seen to rotate from its normally closed 3 o'clock position to 1 o'clock. Two cabin crew immediately attended the door but experienced difficulty in keeping the handle in the closed position. The flight crew were informed, and upon completion of the "after take-off" checklist items, the flight engineer went aft to the door, and confirmed that a considerable amount of force was required to hold the handle in position. He noted that as soon as pressure was relaxed, the handle started to move towards the open position. In addition, there was a loud noise of rushing air, which was apparent at the top and bottom of the door, as opposed to the sides. Two cabin crew were instructed to keep pressure applied to the handle. The flight engineer became concerned not only for the integrity of the door, but also about possible implications for the pressurisation of the aircraft. He therefore called the engineers at Gatwick and discussed the problem with them. They suggested letting go of the handle to see where it would stop. The flight crew declined to do this, and, after further discussion, elected to return to Gatwick. During this time, the aircraft had climbed to 21,000 ft to allow it to enter French airspace. The captain had reassured the cabin crew that the door, being a "plug" type, could not come open. However, the cabin crew were understandably becoming increasingly alarmed, and this was instrumental in the decision to return. The aircraft dumped 46 tonnes of fuel and carried out an uneventful approach and landing. During the latter stages of the flight, the cabin crew looped together some extension seatbelts in an attempt to secure the door handle in the closed position.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Maintenance
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