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View Full Version : UA 320 diverted to DEN after pax tries to open door


Two's in
23rd Apr 2006, 00:24
Sadly, this is not an unusual story these days, of the "wack job does something wacky" variety.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/14400900.htm


Quick action subdues man who tried to open jetliner door in air
Associated Press
DENVER - Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight had some help when they had to take matters into their own hands to prevent Jose Manuel Pelayo-Ortega from bringing their plane down.

Three Secret Service agents headed west to join President Bush's entourage joined with passengers to subdue Pelayo-Ortega when he tried to open one of the doors on the Airbus A-320.

"Had he opened the door, we'd all be dead," passenger Donna Bell of Visalia, Calif., told the Sacramento Bee after the plane was searched and allowed to continue westward.

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahensaid three agents between assignments help detain Pelayo-Ortega, who was taken off the plane after it made an emergency landing in Denver.

"That saved us," Ian Grossman of Chicago told the Bee. "You don't know what will happen if a guy like that is loose in the cabin."

The Bee reported that passenger Joe Pena, a senior airman at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., described the incident as like a bar fight. "I heard a bunch of commotion, and I heard somebody yell 'What are you doing' and 'Get down,' then I saw the guy put into a chokehold, put on his back and pinned down so he couldn't move," Pena said in Sacramento, after hugging his tearful wife, Candy.

While Pelayo-Ortega was being detained, two F-16 fighter jets from Buckley Air Force Base east of Denver scrambled to intercept the plane, which carried 138 passengers and six crew. Had the plane "been judged as a threat by the highest levels of our government, they could make the decision to have the plane shot down," said Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a spokesman for NORAD, a U.S.-Canadian military command based outside Colorado Springs that monitors missiles, aircraft and space objects and warns of threats.

The policy was put in place after Sept. 11, 2001. President Bush would ultimately make the decision.

Authorities said Pelayo-Ortega - whose age and hometown were not immediately released - tried to open an door on the Airbus A-320 en route from Chicago to Sacramento, and then claimed to have a bomb forcing the emergency landing in Denver.

A "shoot-don't shoot" scenario didn't develop because the plane was following all FAA instructions. One of the last resorts would have included the fighter pilots either talking to or attempting to talk to the pilot of the airliner, which didn't happen Friday, Kelly said

The fighter jets out of Buckley Air Force Base east of Denver "followed to make sure nothing untoward was going to happen," Kelly said.

Since Sept. 11, fighters have been scrambled or if already airborne diverted 2,300 times, said Kelly. The Transportation Security Administration said it did not have numbers on how many flights have been diverted.

Pelayo-Ortega was in a Denver jail awaiting federal charges. FBI spokeswoman Monique Kelso said he will be charged on Monday. She did not return a call Saturday seeking details.

Kelso said authorities searched the aircraft for explosives and re-screened luggage as well as the passengers before they were allowed to re-board the plane, which left for its original destination at about 7:30 p.m.

Globaliser
23rd Apr 2006, 01:36
"Had he opened the door, we'd all be dead," passenger Donna Bell of Visalia, Calif., told the Sacramento Bee after the plane was searched and allowed to continue westward.Respect to the paper for immediately going to a highly technically-qualified source for reliable information.

petitfromage
23rd Apr 2006, 02:15
6weeks ago the same thing happened in Australia. The full press article reads:

Mid-air scare: bid to open plane door
March 9, 2006 - 1:20PM

A woman who tried to open a cabin door on a Virgin Blue flight has been arrested in Sydney.

The 33-year-old woman from Gatton, west of Brisbane, was arrested after trying to open the cabin door during the Brisbane to Sydney flight last night, the Australian Federal Police said.

The woman was taken into custody after arriving in Sydney and charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft under the Crimes (Aviation) Act.

She has been bailed and will appear before the Downing Centre Court in Sydney on April 4.

--------------------------------------

Far less dramatic down there!
No secret agents, bar flights, death plunges, fighter planes, & teary eyed nearly widowed wives. The journo even managed to get GWBs name in there twice!
It was no doubt bigger, better & in technicolour in the land of the brave :hmm:

AUTOGLIDE
23rd Apr 2006, 11:59
At anything over 8,000 FT or so, is it even possible to open an aircraft plug-type door once the airframe is pressurised, I always thought there was at least 10 tons keeping it snug?

ZeeDoktor
23rd Apr 2006, 12:38
I believe there are some emergency exits that open either way, but the cabin doors require inward motion before going out. Impossible when pressurized at altitude. Even with just 1psi pressure differential (about 3000ft altitude difference between in and out) you'd be looking at about 4500lbs...

And yes, if we believed everything Donna Bell of Visalia Calif. tells, and the Sacramento Bee has the audacity to print, we'd surely all be dead.

Ai Chihuahua!

Eff Oh
23rd Apr 2006, 12:40
No it's not possible. What a load of sensationalist cr@p.:mad:

woodpecker
23rd Apr 2006, 13:52
Can it be opened? Do the sums for yourself, eight pounds for each square inch of the door making sure it stays "plugged".

Had the same "event" on my command training. A total "non-event".

ChewyTheWookie
23rd Apr 2006, 15:03
Had the plane "been judged as a threat by the highest levels of our government, they could make the decision to have the plane shot down,"

Some idiot tries to open a door so this matter is brought up... What a load of cr*p. Even to intercept it seems like a complete overreaction, let alone mention shooting it down. Are they deliberatly trying to scare people out of the sky?

Idle Thrust
23rd Apr 2006, 15:57
Are the A320 doors really plugs?

matkat
23rd Apr 2006, 18:01
Are the A320 doors really plugs?
Yes They are

Nardi Riviera
23rd Apr 2006, 18:24
Show me the person able to open a plug-door when a/c is pressurized!

THEN I'll relate to the issue...

ChewyTheWookie
23rd Apr 2006, 18:47
Making an educated guess, on most aircraft the door handle and mechanism should break before it is exerting anywhere near enough force to unplug the door.

con-pilot
23rd Apr 2006, 18:48
With manually operated doors the handle will fail before the door can be opened while any jet airliner is airborne and pressurized at normal pressure.

With electric operated doors the motor does not have enough power to open a pressurized door.

As far as I know all emergency exits are plug type on jet airliners.

Two's in
23rd Apr 2006, 18:55
From Chewy; "Are they deliberately trying to scare people out of the sky?"

Well, yes, actually. IMHO the more stories you can print like this that say 'thank goodness for the TSA and our Executive Branch led decision making cycle' the easier it is to convince Joe Public that something meaningful is being done about 'the threat' using his tax dollars. But it doesn't take much Emperors' New Clothes thinking to come up with an alternative answer though.

Nardi Riviera
23rd Apr 2006, 19:05
Hey - can we get some knowledgeable pilots online here?

Any modern a/c have plug-in doors, thus you cannot open them even if you're Superman. When the pressure differential is more than a few PSI, there is no way that a crazy passenger can open a door!

Please - Nitwits - stay off this site!!!

ChewyTheWookie
23rd Apr 2006, 19:51
Nardi, who are you to judge who is knowlegeable and who is not? and what does it matter? It's a discussion board, not a lecture hall. Please stop having a go at people for posting.

Btw, judging by your profile you are not a highly experience pilot yourself. The majority of commercial pilots on here could call you a knowlegeless nitwit...

Phil.Capron
23rd Apr 2006, 20:20
Door 3 (emergency exit) on a 757/767 is not a plug door but I was told it was "protected" by barometric bolts (?) or something similar.Hope it's true.

Idle Thrust
23rd Apr 2006, 20:26
Matkat - "Yes they are" (plugs).
One would assume that anything as modern as the Airbus fleet would have plug doors. The reason I asked the question is that unlike Boeing and Douglas aircraft, where the door comes inside the fuselage and then closes into the door opening from the inside, the A320 door closes into the opening from the outside. So the "plug" is inserted from the outside rather than vice versa.
The Airbus door also has a complex system of latches (reminiscent of the Viscount) around the perimeter of the door opening that, combined with the above, has always led me to believe the door was not a true plug held in place by differential pressure.
Perhaps someone could clarify?

Longtimer
23rd Apr 2006, 20:39
Matkat - "Yes they are" (plugs).
One would assume that anything as modern as the Airbus fleet would have plug doors. The reason I asked the question is that unlike Boeing and Douglas aircraft, where the door comes inside the fuselage and then closes into the door opening from the inside, the A320 door closes into the opening from the outside. So the "plug" is inserted from the outside rather than vice versa.
The Airbus door also has a complex system of latches (reminiscent of the Viscount) around the perimeter of the door opening that, combined with the above, has always led me to believe the door was not a true plug held in place by differential pressure.
Perhaps someone could clarify?

Here is a goto to a thread talking about Aircraft doors that may provide you with the information you seek.
http://www.airliners.net/discussions/tech_ops/read.main/100075//6/

Idle Thrust
23rd Apr 2006, 21:10
Many thanks Longtimer - an informative thread. My training never made it that clear.

skytrax
23rd Apr 2006, 21:13
The doors cannot be opened even in armed mode during the flight at Airbus 330, 340 and 777. Not even LR3 cannot be opened.
Oher aircrafts I don' t know..

G-AVIN
23rd Apr 2006, 21:22
As SLF with a wife who would rather walk out of the terminal than fly EXT to TFS I agree with ChewyThe Wookie if the "missus" read the report regarding the Denver flight she woud be scares out of the sky !!

Ignition Override
24th Apr 2006, 05:52
And so the Asso(le)ciated Press refuses to publish, in the same article, the fairly well-known fact that with pressurization, the doors are sealed very tightly?

DingerX
24th Apr 2006, 10:19
You know, some of you folks need to bone up on reading comprehension. The passenger did not say "If those Secret Servicemen didn't stop him, we would all be dead", but rather "if he got the door open".

I'm inclined to believe her. What chain of circumstances would be required to get the door open on a transcontinental flight over the Rockies?

Obviously, the limiting factor is the pressure differential preventing the opening of the door. So the pressure differential isn't that great. Yet masks indicating dangerously low cabin pressure have not dropped. The options are:

A) Aircraft is at cruising altitude, depressurized, with no masks or other indication. Cause: most likely massive structural failure. Result: "We are all dead"

B) Aircraft is at cruising altitude, and outside pressure is mysteriously equal to cabin pressure. Cause: Something really evil in the environment, undoubtedly lethal to those who live on the surface. Result: "We are all dead"

C) Aircraft is actually cruising depressurized at 8000 feet across Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Result: "We are all dead".



So in fact, this witness was being truthful, honest and philosophical.



Oh yeah, and an aviation story involving the president, secret service agents who "conveniently" were nearby, and an apparent lunatic being subdued. The conspiracy theory wackos are gonna go to town on this one.

Techman
24th Apr 2006, 12:32
You know, some of you folks need to bone up on reading comprehension.

It is obvious what she meant. It is also obvious that she knows nothing about aircraft. Do you?

Even in the in the unlikely event that the door could be unlocked, and the cabin depressurized, nobody is going to die. It is also unlikely that the door could be opened inflight, even if the diff pressure was zero, as most doors open outwards and forwards. Opening a door against the airflow at a couple of hundred knots, or maybe even three, is not for weak.

There is a lot of baloney being spoken here.

lomapaseo
24th Apr 2006, 13:28
It is obvious what she meant. It is also obvious that she knows nothing about aircraft. Do you?

Even in the in the unlikely event that the door could be unlocked, and the cabin depressurized, nobody is going to die. It is also unlikely that the door could be opened inflight, even if the diff pressure was zero, as most doors open outwards and forwards. Opening a door against the airflow at a couple of hundred knots, or maybe even three, is not for weak.

There is a lot of baloney being spoken here.

I'm hoping that this thread stays on a technical track and the politicos go read Jet Blast. I am curious about the baloney coment above. Not wanting to denigrate a specific poster I wonder if Techman you could give us a hint of what is right and wrong in these scenarios. I fear that I may have accepted the scenario straight away and need to review my understandings about this.

visibility3miles
24th Apr 2006, 15:48
Regardless of whether the door can be opened at altitude, wouldn't you be a little scared to share the same confined quarters with someone who was crazy enough to try it? (And I assume they weren't wearing a parachute or trying to step outside to have a smoke.)

Globaliser
25th Apr 2006, 03:16
Any modern a/c have plug-in doors, thus you cannot open them even if you're Superman.Actually, what about 744 UD doors? When that LH pax managed to get the door and slide open when taxiing for takeoff a few months back (at MEX?), ISTR people saying that the UD doors aren't plugs.

Beanbag
25th Apr 2006, 13:48
Doesn't the Aloha 'convertible' incident demonstrate pretty clearly that sudden decompression doesn't equal everyone dies? Not good news for those near where the pressure leaves and not strapped in, of course.

jammydonut
25th Apr 2006, 14:04
Don't these nutters ever go to the movies and watch the various "Aeroplane"
type movies before attempting these door opening stunts:confused:

bubbers44
25th Apr 2006, 17:37
No pressurised aircraft door can be opened so it was a non event.

GlueBall
26th Apr 2006, 20:30
Globaliser:..yes, the doors can be opened while taxiing as the fuselage is unpressurized on the ground.:p

Globaliser
26th Apr 2006, 20:45
Globaliser:..yes, the doors can be opened while taxiing as the fuselage is unpressurized on the ground.:pYes, I know that! I was just wondering if anyone could confirm or deny that the 744 UD doors are (or are not) actually plug type doors.

Rainboe
26th Apr 2006, 20:58
The 747 UD door opens out and up. It is not plug type. If the warning idicates that the lock has not made, a cabin crew member is required to guard it up to about 3psi when it will become immovable.

Globaliser
27th Apr 2006, 20:38
Thanks, Rainboe!

UA320Cap
28th Apr 2006, 04:58
The crew were none to happy with the fighter escort...All they did was say they were diverting to DEN due to unruly PAX... No emergency etc...

Welcome to the new George Bush B.S.

West Coast
28th Apr 2006, 06:59
"yes, the doors can be opened while taxiing as the fuselage is unpressurized on the ground"

The A320 doesn't pre-pressurize on the ground like many other aircraft?

SpiritofAus
29th Apr 2006, 00:48
"and then claimed to have a bomb forcing the emergency landing in Denver."

"Kelso said authorities searched the aircraft for explosives and re-screened luggage as well as the passengers before they were allowed to re-board the plane, which left for its original destination at about 7:30 p.m."



The diversion of the plane seemed to be for a reason more than a pax trying to open a door.

av8boy
29th Apr 2006, 05:35
As a pup I flew C141s with the USAF. The 141 had plug doors all around except for the number 2 escape hatch which is on the top of the aircraft--it's the first one in the cargo compartment. The reason it isn't a plug is so that it can be opened from the flight deck if you need to get rid of something nasty that leaked out of something in the cargo and got into the air. Just decompress the aircraft.

One day while in the middle of crossing the pond I was chatting with a salty old flight engineer who happened to be with us that day. We were on the flight deck and I asked him about the number 1 hatch (plug type on the roof of the flight deck). I asked him, "if I turned that handle on the number 1 hatch and pulled on the hand-holds, do you think I could get it open here at altitude?" He said, "Impossible.This aircraft is pressurized at (as I recall, but it's been a long time) 8:1. If you turned the handle and pulled on the handholds, you'd pull the handholds off before you got anywhere close to getting the hatch open." I said, "That's amazing! I'm going to try it!" He said, "Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea of what would happened if you opened that thing?"

Humans. What we fear can so easily override what we know. I laugh every time I think about that conversation.

Dave :)

JustAnothrWindScreen
30th Apr 2006, 23:02
Back in the mid 1970's, I was a flight engineer on the B727. Flight attendant comes up and asks me to go back and talk to the lady at the overwing exit while we are still at the gate. As I walk back I see that she has removed the overwing exit door and is smoking a cigarette. Chuckling, I ask her why she opened the door, and she responds that the smoke was getting in her eyes and this is what she does in her car. After putting the door back in (with someone on the outside to lift that little step) I explain why we can't do that.

Halfway to our destination the flight attendant once again comes up and asks me to go talk with the lady at the overwing exit. Now this was funny, she has a hold of that exit with both hands and with one leg braced against the wall of the aircraft and is pulling for all her might. I once again explained the implications but I really think she had a few nuts loose and it really didn't matter what anyone said. I did have her moved to a non overwing exit seat for the landing just in case the urge for another cigarette overcame her on the taxi in.

aviator
7th May 2006, 06:28
A eyewitness report from frequent flyer forum:

Scary flight on UAL Flight 735
Saturday, April 29, 2006

From flyertalk, this person was in F.

I was in 3C on United Flight 735 and saw everything that happend....and it was A LOT scarier to all of us in first than the news is reporting.

The situation started after meal was served and "The Chronicles of Narnia" had been on for about
an hour (never will watch that movie without thinking about this flight). An Hispanic man walked up
to first, kind of shuffling with a hanging head and a s! lack expression. I looked up when he walked by, thought he looked weird but not weird enough to worry about. I went back to the movie and the next thing I know I hear our flight attendant yelling, "No sir, Stop that Sir!" and then "get away from there"! The passenger in 2D stated he could see the guy had indeed been able to move the handle on the main exit door all the way over and he could see the inner door lifting and moving a bit. The flight attendant rushed forward to push back on the door trying to close it. It was at that moment some pretty cool guys in 1B, and 1C stood up, grabbed the guy and had him in what I think was considered
a choke hold. 1D, another big guy (all three men who helped to subdue the man were a good size fortunately) was also helping to hold the guy down.

The guy seemed to faint and slumped to the ground...but only for a moment. He then started trying
to get up and apparently he was quite strong because although there were two men ! holding him down, it appeared he was going to be able to get u! p and wa nted to move back toward the door to open it.
He was screaming, "I want to die, "I have a camera in my stomach," "Kill Me "and also "We have to save the country!" Several other men in first and the first couple of rows in Economy started standing up saying "do you think they need more help?".........It appeared to me the two guys holding him were starting to lose the battle and I yelled basically, "yes, they could use some more muscle." (I am female and was terrified, but would have been up there helping too if needed!) About three more
guys stood up and jumped to the front.

He had a brother or companion who went up front and I guess was trying to help, but there seemed
to me to be a language barrier between the guys holding him, the two flight attendants and the "brother." In addition, we all had no idea what was really happening and there was a fear in all of us the "brother" might be in on what was happening. The guy claiming to be the brother started y! elling
to stop it to the guy who was pinned but to no avail. In addition to all of this fun the pinned man starting making the most horrible retching sounds as if he was vomiting. Loud sounds and several expressed concern about keeping him off his back so he wouldn't choke. He apparently did not vomit, but it all added to the weirdness. About then several people started demanding the brother go back
to his seat...again, we did not know if it was some kind of crazy plot involving more people or what. Eventually, he agreed and returned to his seat which lessened the tension a bit. I remember one
guy saying, "we can keep this up for two more hours" which was true as the pinned man was continuing to struggle.

In the first bin over 1 A/C handcuffs were found and from somewhere duct tape was brought out.
The passengers holding the man wrapped duct tape around the man's knees and ankles and then managed to handcuff him.

Channel 9 WAS on and the guy in! 3D and myself listened to the conversations of the pilot and ! the Denv er airport. It was believed there might be a bomb threat since the guy was raving about needing his camera and the "camera in his stomach" comments" and permission was given to land in Denver under an emergency situation. Apparently two fighters were deployed out of Buckley AFB and were conversing with the pilot in order to figure out exactly what was going on. I suppose it could be said
if the pilot was not communicating sufficiently with the jets, some sort of action would have been taken. Fortunately, all was well in the cockpit and the pilots were excellent. They were given permission to return to DIA at a speed and route that was at their discretion. The Pilot came on and announced to the passengers and crew we had declared an emergency situation and we were about 140 miles
out of Denver and Denver was preparing for our landing. The pilots did well in juggling talking to Denver ground, the jets and keeping the passengers pretty well informed on what would be hap! pening to us.

Meanwhile, back in first, a gentleman walked up from the back and spoke a few words to the flight attendant. Some believed he was an air marshall which I don't quite believe or he would have been up to the front sooner. Others have stated he was a Secret Service agent and still others believe he was an FBI agent going to Sacramento for a law enforcement seminar. I believe he may have been traveling with another law enforcement person. He took charge of the situation bringing his bag up to the front and taking out his own handcuffs. They took the duct tape off the guy and stood him up and walked him back to 4C in economy, directly behind me. By now, he was very quiet which helped a lot to calm everyone's nerves.

There was a lot of excitement yet to come as the pilots felt they needed to get the plane on the ground as quickly as possible and were flying VERY fast towards DIA. Making lots of hard turns. As
we got closer to Denver and were gettin! g ready to land, DIA ground asked the pilot if he was going to! be able to land at the angle he was coming in at and the pilot replied he thought yes, but if he missed he would just come back around. Well, we experienced the most amazing approach and landing any
of us will ever experience in a lifetime. The vision I have is of the Reno Air Races where you see planes flying at extreme angles and very close to the ground. Perhaps this is a slight exaggeration, but I
would have to say only slight. I would give anything to be able to see our approach and landing on
film. Several of the first passengers were very frequent fliers and were stunned at what we experienced. On final approach we banked very hard left and dropped in elevation dramatically. The ground, as we were banking, was so incredibly close! I apologize if I sound like a ninny, but it was very exciting and scary. The landing was awesome. I feel our pilot was extremely skilled and flew very well under extreme duress. Still listening to Channel 9 the pilot was unsure if we wo! uld have to emergency evacuate, but it was determined to not be necessary.

When we landed, the "unruly" passenger was moved to the front door and the police came on and removed him very quietly. We had landed way out, very far away from the terminal. Those of us in first who were witnesses and some of the people who were near where the passenger sat were asked to give written statements. We were placed on a bus along with our carry-ons and eventually taken back to DIA.

United did an excellent, excellent job of organizing the entire process. All the passengers were brought into a large room in the B terminal that was filled with comfortable chairs. They brought refreshments for us and asked us to relax. When all the passengers finally arrived to the room United made announcements a plane was being prepared for us and we would be leaving again in two hours. We were all thinking we would be at DIA for hours and would undoubtedly be staying overnight. United offer! ed to fly those who did not want to fly that night to fly them! the nex t day on Saturday.

They actually started loading us on the plane a little earlier than expected which was nice. It turned out to be the very same plane which was a bit interesting, but fine as it meant we would be leaving sooner because of it. We had a new crew and the return flight was quite pleasant.

I apologize this post is so long and undoubtedly a bit rambling, but I wanted to provide as much detailed information as possible. All in all, I am very pleased with how well United performed in this very unusual and scary situation.

barit1
8th May 2006, 15:04
Then there was this case of the guy wanting to visit the loo. (http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=13192&key=0)

FOXPRESIDENT
8th May 2006, 17:52
Then there was this case of the guy wanting to visit the loo. (http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=13192&key=0)

Wonder if he managed to do his business?:p