I was looking on YouTube at crew training videos. One door caught my attention for a Qantas 767. This door was completely electric and slid up and into the fuselage above, instead of out and to the side like most ones I've seen.

My question is how many different door mechanisms are there on commercial airliners and what are the benefits/disadvantages of each?

  • $\begingroup$ This question covers plug-type doors. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Feb 21, 2015 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


The only formal classification of door types that I could find is in 14 CFR 25.807, which specifies the emergency exit requirements for transport category aircraft. It defines Type I-IV, Type A-C, ventral and tailcone exits. The doors you usually enter and leave the aircraft through are probably type I or A:

Type I. This type is a floor-level exit with a rectangular opening of not less than 24 inches wide by 48 inches high, with corner radii not greater than eight inches.

Type A. This type is a floor-level exit with a rectangular opening of not less than 42 inches wide by 72 inches high, with corner radii not greater than seven inches.

These definitions are quite generic, but Transport Canada has a handy list of Aircraft Exit Profiles that gives specific details (often including the type) for many common aircraft. It says this for the 767 main doors:

B-767-200/300ER (Doors 1L/R FWD, 2L/R AFT)

Note: Some models equipped with 2 additional type 1 exits L/R just forward of wing.

  • H - 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) W - 1.07 m (3 ft 6 in); Type A
  • Equivalent force required to move door control handle from closed/locked position to open position (Normal and Emergency): 12 kg (26 lbs).
  • Approximate force required to open a door (lift upward) from unlocked to open: 18 kg (40lbs).
  • "Counterbalance" opening design.
  • Inward/upward opening doors.
  • Manually operated except some models equipped with electrical (normal operation) opening/closing option (FWD Entry Door).
  • Unique arming/disarming mechanism (lever, indicators).
    • Release button must be depressed and held to move arming lever to "Slide Armed" mode.
    • Yellow plastic "Emergency Use Only" (bendable) flag moves upward in front of Door Control Handle when slide is in armed mode.
    • Double channel slides.
  • Upward rotating Door Control Handle.
  • "Uplatch" mechanism holds door in open position. Button must be depressed while door is lowered initial few inches, to release.

You can see from that list that the details can vary a lot, even if the basic designs are very similar.

Coming up with pros and cons for every variant would be tough (especially for me, since I know nothing about it!), but obviously some aircraft are larger than others and that will limit how much space is available for the door mechanism. There are also operational considerations: aircraft that frequently operate out of smaller airports without jet bridges may need to have airstairs, which are usually built into the doors.


You've asked about different doors. I'll skip the standard, rectangular pull in/push out door and the L1011-style door you've mentioned.

Some examples:

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A) please add attribution for all your images - a few are watermarked, but source for all is considered polite. B) If you would add some description of the door type and differences between what you've posted, that would be helpful as most of what you've posted appear to fall into the general category of "air-stairs". $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jun 2, 2016 at 13:09

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