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There is this ATC recording where an A340 pilot requests to leave the aircraft and close the fuel panel on the bottom of the fuselage, while the aircraft is on a taxiway (the request is made at 2:50). Now, here is a picture to show how to get in and out of an A340 without deploying the emergency slides and causing even more issues:

Avionics bay hatch
(Source: http://www.flugzeugbilder.de/show.php?id=695499 and yes, I realize this is technically a A330)

However, the picture also makes it look like it not actually possible for anyone to reach the fuselage from the ground. Is that actually the case? And if so, how would the pilot actually reach the fuselage and close the fuel panel?

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    $\begingroup$ @fooot I would argue not, I'm not asking how the pilot could get in and out of the airplane itself, I'm wondering how he would reach the fuselage aft of the wings. $\endgroup$ – JustSid Mar 8 '16 at 2:14
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Yes, the refuel/defuel service panel can be reached from a person standing on the ground.

From the Airbus A340-200/-300 Aircraft Characteristics - Airport and Maintenance Planning document, the height of the panel in question is just under 2 meters from the ground:

enter image description here

The panel is located on the lower area of the wing/body interface fairing as seen here (item 13):

enter image description here

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As you can see in this image of an A340, there is a person standing under the front who is easily in a hand's reach from the bottom of the fuselage. So yes, the pilot could reach to the bottom of the fuselage to close that panel.

enter image description here

Original Image Source

Another closer view with another person (He is standing a little further away though): enter image description here Source

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  • $\begingroup$ Damn, the perspective in the other image has really thrown me off. It looks like there would be no way to reach the fuselage. $\endgroup$ – JustSid Mar 8 '16 at 2:16

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