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Every so often there is a report of a person openening an ( armed ) emergency exit unauthorised on the ground leading to a slide deployment.

Often this is followed by the flight leaving after deplaning / arresting the person involved but with ( say) an hour's delay.

What i was wondering is how they manage this? Isn't the emergency slide packed in a very specific manner by trained packers? Or do airports carry spare pre-packed slides that they can replace into the doors?

Or are aircraft allowed to fly with a non-operantional single slide as a MEL item?

Just was curious to know since one hour sounded like a pretty quick fix.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you link an article where they actually left with only an hour delay? I couldn't find one in a quick search... $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Jul 1 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ I'm no expert by any means, but it might be possible that, if the plane is at a maintenance hub, they may be able to replace the entire door, including a pre-packed slide, in only an hour. Of course, that's just me thinking out loud, and I have no experience or evidence to back this up, hence a comment, not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jul 1 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, @Bianfable. Last flight I took (A320 or 321, I believe), there was a large bulge in the main entry door that appeared to have the slide in it. Maybe it depends on which slide is deployed. Maybe I completely misinterpreted what I was looking at. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jul 1 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ "The flight" may depart an hour later, but it may be a different aircraft used for that flight. Replacing the door (big, heavy, multiple hinges needing exact alignment) would be far more involved than replacing the packed slide. Replacing a door in an hour would be like an Indy pit crew replacing 4 tires in 20 seconds... possible, but not going to happen in real life with line mechanics (or your local tire shop). $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 1 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Actually, looking at escape slide deployment videos (737, A320), it looks like you're right. They are stored in that bulge in the door. I remember seeing some image with a hatch below a door saying CAUTION ESCAPE SLIDE, but I don't remember which aircraft that was... $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Jul 1 at 18:41

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It can be an MEL item on some aircraft (see) Operation of Wide Body Jets with Door/Slide Inoperative. I'm not aware of single aisle aircraft (e.g. B737, etc.), except for cargo-only configurations, providing MEL relief for inoperative door slides.

If it's not an item that can be deferred per the MEL for a particular aircraft it's likely going to take at least an hour (probably much more depending on the circumstances, type of airplane, etc.) to repack/replace the slide, do the paperwork, reboard the passengers, etc., even if the aircraft is at a company maintenance base airport with the necessary maintenance personnel and equipment. If the aircraft is at a non-maintenance base it would be hard to image resolving the issue in an hour.

Can you provide a source for the report you are referring to?

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  • $\begingroup$ Replacing would be a lot faster than repacking the deployed slide. A missing slide couldn't be MEL'd, but a maintenance ferry might be allowed to reposition the aircraft with only pilots aboard. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 1 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I generally agree. Ferry flight would probably work (no pax). B737, probably others allow cargo only versions mel relief without all slides (with provisos). Some wide-body jets allow per mel an inop Door/Slide. Replacing, if available, would be faster. But by the time all work, reboarding etc. was done pushing back in an hour would be optimistic. I've only seen it once and it was a mess and took quite awhile to resolve (at a maintenance base. $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    Jul 1 at 18:46

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