In recent news here in England was the case of a female passenger on a flight I think London to Antalya, who got a bit out of control, and decided she wanted to leave the airplane and tried to open the cabin door - in mid flight. I couldn't identify the plane, but just an average plane used by holidaymakers.

This would obviously frightening for everyone, but would there be actually any chance that she succeeds? If she was not an average woman but an unusually strong man? If she worked on other flights and had knowledge how to open cabin doors. that the average passenger doesn't have, but no keys etc. that would be needed on that flight?


1 Answer 1


Almost all airliners have doors that are some form of plug type which have to be moved inward to open, and when the airplane is pressurized, the 8 or so psi of cabin pressure differential will be pushing the door out with, say, 20000+ pounds of force for a door with a surface area of about 2500 square inches.

Even a residual amount of pressure making a couple thousand pounds of force would make the door impossible to open for a normal human, which is why the opening mechanism includes some for of venting to make sure all residual pressure is gone.

To do it in flight, she would have to get the flight crew to fully depressurize the cabin first.

Even on a non-plug door as used on some airliners (CRJs have non-plug main doors) the shear loads on the pins that hold the door in place are so high that you can't move the mechanism that withdraws the pins to open the door, once the plane is pressurized to any significant degree. It's like the operating lever is bolted in place.

  • $\begingroup$ On almost all airliners, as you said the doors are of plug type. But, there's a catch, The emergency exit doors near the wing are not. I've observed this in B737/A320, etc. The door locks of the emergency exits are electronically locked. They unlock only if the aircraft is on ground (Same way the cargo hatch works). If you do find someway to exert enough amount of force, causing the lock to fail then, these doors will open mid-air. Other doors (the main ones) are plug type and are impossible to open due to cabin pressure. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2022 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for fixing "airliners" but the other edits are style edits that I would normally reject. I'll leave it as you changed it however. As to the comment, I'm covered by "almost", plus I was mainly talking about entry/service doors. Overwing exits are really hatches, since they don't have hinges. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AtheeshThirumalairajan Are you sure the A320 overwing exits are not of plug type? They have to be moved inwards before they can be thrown out, unlike the 737 ones which open outwards. $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I wrote A320 by mistake and I was unable to edit the comment due to low reputation on this forum. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2022 at 13:59

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