I want to ask if an overwing exit slide in an Airbus A320 can be opened at all when landing or ditching. Is the exit still usable? Or it is blocked and we have to move the passenger to another one?

And in ditching is the water level one of the reasons why it will not be opened and the reason the exit is blocked? If it was the case, why to consider the primary exit in ditching is the over wing exit? If it is deployed we will not use it in ditching.

  • $\begingroup$ It's always possible that a door becomes blocked during a landing and that other doors must be used instead. That said, your title and question are a bit confusing and somewhat contradictory. The "Miracle on the Hudson" clearly shows passengers using the wing exits after a ditching, however they did not use the exit slide. Which are you asking about? Also, rising water levels (from holes in the fuselage and from someone opening a rear door) did cause the rear exits to be unusable. A little more clarity will help give a better answer. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 24, 2019 at 14:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Related: Why did the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers stay on the wings? $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Oct 24, 2019 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ Let me clarify , our trainer said that in ditching or landing if the overwing slide did't deployed ( if it did not came up from the fuselage at all ) then the exit must be blocked and we have to direct passengers to another exit , and I am not convinced of that , that is the case I am asking about ... is it blocked in this case or not ? ... I saw many videos about ditching and the water level is covering the fuselage where the slide is stored and maybe that is why it doesn't open ... if the water covering the container then It can't be opened why did she said that we have to block the exit? $\endgroup$
    – San
    Oct 26, 2019 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ And if it is the case of water level preventing the deployment of the slide then we should use the exit not blocking it , right ? Because in ditching we don't use the slide and the primary exits are the over wing' exits , right ? $\endgroup$
    – San
    Oct 26, 2019 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


The over overwing exits are secondary exits in a ditching and they should be used only if it becomes absolutely necessary to use them. The reason is because, the escape slides of the overwing exits are just slides and not rafts as they cannot be used as long term flotation devices. Moreover, unlike the slide rafts, the escape slides on the overwing exits cannot be detached from the aircraft. If the aircraft sinks, it takes the slides with it. The rafts can be separated away from the aircraft and can be used as small dinghy to hold the passengers. Furthermore, the rafts also have a loop to which you can attach the survival kit.

enter image description here

Here you can see that the A320 has four slide rafts (fwd and aft doors) and two overwing escape slides.

If the usage of overwing exits become necessary then they can be used in a ditching. In the Hudson landing, they used the overwing exits because the aft exits were rendered useless due to the considerable amount of impact damage received by the aft fuselage of the aircraft. Nonetheless, there are ditching related safety devices in the overwing exit. This is because in a ditching, the wing may get slippery. So, there are life lines that can be attached to assist passengers to escape the aircraft over the wing. This is what that yellow hook you see on the A320 wing is used for. So, yes wing exits can be used in a ditching, but they remain as secondary exits as long as all the other four exits are in working order.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Why did they make it so that the overwing slides can't be used as rafts? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Sep 14, 2020 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean Sounds like a separate question, but perhaps it's just because you can't fit all those extra features into the limited space available. An overwing exit is pretty much just an oversized window, there's much less room for the slide than in the main passenger doors. $\endgroup$
    – TooTea
    Sep 14, 2020 at 10:58

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