A recent report into an "unnecessary" plane evacuation reports that, following an aborted takeoff

[The senior flight attendant] then ordered an evacuation of the 169 passengers onboard, but the pilot and co-pilot were not informed nor aware until they noticed the evacuation slide had been deployed and passengers were moving across the front of the aircraft. [my emphasis]

This led to dangerous situation because the pilots, unaware of the evacuation, kept the engines running while the passengers were trying to get out.

It raises questions about crew and cabin crew communication, but what I found most surprising is that apparently there is nothing in the cockpit to alert the pilots that the doors had been opened.

Even my car does that!

Is this something specific to the A320 or is it generally true that the cockpit doesn't 'know' what's happening with the doors?

Laudamotion Airbus A320-214 Laudamotion Airbus A320-214 which had emergency evacuation (source)

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    $\begingroup$ Your quote "until they noticed the evacuation slide had been deployed" sounds like the ECAM indication. The FA initiated the evacuation without communicating with the pilots, and they became aware because of the ECAM, followed by seeing passengers on the tarmac. Is that a reasonable way to read what you quoted? "Noticing" the slide deployed well behind you by craning your neck to look that far over your shoulder seems like a less likely first indication, especially with "stuff" going on in the cockpit. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ Your comment prompted me to look at the actual AAIB report - "At 2007:21 hrs, just as the commander was about to make a PA to instruct the FA to return to normal operations, he noticed an amber ‘DOOR L [LEFT] FWD [FORWARD] CABIN’ caution message illuminated on the ECAM. At first, he thought it was a fault but then saw the evacuation slide deployed at Door L1 out the left cockpit window and passengers moving across the front of the aircraft." - so, it was actually seeing the passengers that caused the pilots to realise what was actually going on. But it answers my question about the cockpit. $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 11:24

1 Answer 1


The Airbus A320 has an ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor) Door Page:

ECAM Door Page
(A320 FCOM - Doors - Controls and Indicators)

When a door is opened, this will also trigger a caution. According to the FCOM, a MASTER CAUT is triggered together with a SINGLE CHIME. The lower ECAM page will also automatically switch to the Door page.

Other aircraft may have similar pages or individual warning lights, like e.g. the Boeing 737 on the overhead panel:

737 Door Lights
(Boeing 737 NG FCOMv2 - 1.30.15 - Airplane General, Doors - Controls and Indicators)

I can only speculate why the pilots did not recognize the open door earlier in the incident you linked. My best guess would be that they were preoccupied with the engine failure that had just occurred, which will obviously create a lot of other warnings. It is easy to miss the door warning in all of those.

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    $\begingroup$ I remember reading about QF32 and was quite surprised that it took the FO half an hour to go through all the ECAM alarms, warnings, messages, etc. I imagine, an "open door" message might easily get lost, even though in this case the list of messages was probably not quite that long. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 20:24

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