Saudia Flight 163 was an airplane where all passengers and crew onboard died following a cargo fire. The plane managed to land safely, and the passengers had moved to the front of the cabin. However, it is stated that:

It was noted that the doors could not be opened because the pressure was not equalized [1]

Why was the cabin pressure higher than outside?

As a passenger, how could you escape an airplane that is pressurized, such that the plugdoors will not open?

If you are outside of the aircraft, is there any way of opening it?

[1] https://www.aviationfile.com/story-of-saudia-flight-163/


1 Answer 1


The doors of an airliner are difficult to impossible to open while the aircraft is pressurized significantly higher than its environment. In this specific incident, the aircraft was pressurized because the outflow valves were nearly fully closed, and the engines (which provide the pressurization) were still on for several minutes after the landing.

As a passenger, there is very little you can do. Consider that anything you can do to depressurize the plane on the ground is something you could do to depressurize the plane in the air. Something the airlines naturally don't want you to do. You could try flushing the toilets, which would relieve at least a little excess pressure, as long as the engines are off.

The cabin crew can depressurize the plane by shutting off the engines and opening all the outflow valves. (Though in the L1011, a loss of electrical power would have kept the cabin crew from doing this). Ground crews may be able to force open the outflow valves or possibly smash a window or cut into the fuselage if that doesn't work.


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