View Full Version : DHL B752 at Leipzig on Feb 13th 2021, cargo door opened in flight

Check Airman
13th Feb 2021, 18:26

13th Feb 2021, 19:38
10-year-old PCF conversion. It will be interesting to see if the Door Indication System was operative or MEL'd.

Departure was during darkness, as might be expected for DHL's operation.

13th Feb 2021, 22:08
The early B747s had a design deficiency in the cargo door locking mechanism, as this involved a PCF conversion of a more modern type, that shouldn’t have been an issue. Due to the door being located on the upper fuselage, at least the engine on that side wasn’t affected.

Human factors come into question, with the return landing being at 05:47 local the crew, both flight and ground, may have been on duty all night or had a circadian low reporting time.

Dark Stanley
13th Feb 2021, 22:42
To quote from the report.......

Germany's BFU confirmed a cargo door apparently opened in flight and dispatched investigators on site. The BFU reported nobody was injured and no freight was ejected from the aircraft. An investigation has been opened.

Thats amazing, I never knew DHL carried investigators in the belly’s. Now that’s German efficiency for you!!!

And considering the turmoil that certain other G reg cargo carriers are enduring due to Brexit, how is a G reg doing point to point in Europe?

14th Feb 2021, 02:29
DR, do you know who did the conversion?
I could be wrong, but I don't recall Boeing doing a 757 P2F conversion so I'm guessing this was an independent STC.

14th Feb 2021, 07:41
The conversion was done by Precision Aircrafts in Jacksonville.

14th Feb 2021, 07:43
Precision Conversions (http://www.aircargopedia.com/pdf/precisionConversions.pdf)ST01529SE (http://www.aircargopedia.com/pdf/precisionConversions.pdf), this example embodied by Flightstar (https://mroholdings.com/facilities/flightstar/) at Jacksonville/Cecil.

As of 2018, 109 conversions completed by various MROs.

14th Feb 2021, 07:59

Why do human factors come into question? Can you elaborate please?

14th Feb 2021, 08:33
I think he means because of the night shift, but both flight crew and ground crew are used to the night operation and were already on night duty for a few days and were "acclimatised" as it is called.
Both Door indicating system and ground crew confirmed a locked main cargo door. The crew did a good job!
Lets see what the investigation will bring out.

14th Feb 2021, 09:53
https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/382x442/dhl_757_cargo_door_zoomed_7a7e8cf35dd9b81022e1368db0b49d7dde 8a71f4.jpg


14th Feb 2021, 10:19
I’ve done night freight before, believe me you still get tired. However if the door was closed correctly then the company who performed the conversion could be looking at a recall and possible grounding of all the aircraft they worked on.

With the investigators on-site, the report shouldn’t take long.

14th Feb 2021, 11:30
As far as I know we have had more problems with the main cargo door on the Boeing built 757 freighters than the conversions. But then again, the factory built freighters are older.

14th Feb 2021, 11:40
Hard to see from the photos so far, but if the door was forced open with the locks in place, I would expect to see at least some damage to the door frame caused by the shoot bolts.

If there is any, it's not obvious.

de fumo in flammam
14th Feb 2021, 20:54
And cargo is the answer.

I was always told, lose the main cargo door, lose the aeroplane. Thank God that was wrong.

14th Feb 2021, 21:18
Happily in this case they found the door attached to the aeroplane ...

de fumo in flammam
14th Feb 2021, 21:23
Indeed...but the the dc9 where it opened and stayed attached.. crashed. Extremely dangerous situation which could go either way I guess; full ∆P and it ain't going to be pretty! Interesting comments on avherald, especially re possible ice or snow in the latches/mechanism or v cold temps. I was always Captain Paranoia with the door, (and ULD load positions, which saved my skin once) - not helped by the latch windows being far from clear (not 757).

Dan Dare
14th Feb 2021, 21:28
Would anyone be able to post a plot of their flight-path? It would be interesting to gauge the time they had available to turn back and have opposite direction runway prepared for them.

14th Feb 2021, 21:32
Same thing happend to a DC-8 freighter out of MIA many moons ago, they returned safely as well.

14th Feb 2021, 22:15
Dan Dare

13 minutes elapsed between stopping the climb just short of 6000' and touching down.

14th Feb 2021, 22:37

14th Feb 2021, 23:15
Most freighters with large doors have limits on opening the door whilst on the ground and the wind is above a certain speed, due to the force exerted. In flight at say 200 kts this force would be considerably higher.

IIRC the BAE146 airframe can distort slightly to the extent where the door can’t be closed until the wind speed dies down.

Boeing built pretty solid aircraft back in the day.

barry lloyd
14th Feb 2021, 23:51

Try looking up Fine Air....

15th Feb 2021, 00:02
What does a takeoff stall and crash due to miss-loaded cargo have to do with a cargo door opening in flight?

15th Feb 2021, 00:49
The flight data on this will be interesting to view. The directional stability would have been degraded greatly, and possibly asymmetrically, so it is fortuitous that it was at low speed and low altitude for better damping functions, but, impressive anyway. An ASB at the very least or an AD would be a reasonable course of action.

Nice to see the plane in one piece after that episode.

15th Feb 2021, 03:02
I've seen more than one of these on both small twin jets and four engine aircraft. nothing special in handling. In the DC8 the pilot didn't even know it had popped other than the noise increase. I always remember the co-pilot/flight engineer walking back to the gaping hole with a shocked look on his face as I was looking up from directly underneath (in a chase car) after it came to a stop. I vaguely remember the twin somewhere in Texas and reviewed the FDR but without scouring my harddrive I don't recall performance details in the ATB

15th Feb 2021, 04:55
rather strange. Cargo doors do give a red light in the cockpit when they are not locked.
Thatīs a very obvious light...
Looking forward to the investigation result

15th Feb 2021, 07:16

"Most freighters with large doors have limits on opening the door whilst on the ground and the wind is above a certain speed, due to the force exerted. In flight at say 200 kts this force would be considerably higher."

For the aircraft in question, limits are 25 kts to open the door fully, 45 kts to open to the horizontal-ish.

15th Feb 2021, 07:35
Not Fine Air, think it was Tampa.


15th Feb 2021, 07:51

"Cargo doors do give a red light in the cockpit when they are not locked. Thatīs a very obvious light..."

Depending on the operator, the Door Indication System can be an MEL item.

In that case, the aircraft can be despatched with the system inop, provided that an external visual check of the locks is made before departure.

That typically involves a cherry-picker, torch and (if necessary) a means of cleaning the 8 Plexiglass viewports through which the latches can be checked. What could possibly go wrong?

15th Feb 2021, 08:01

Yes, DC-8-63F of TAMPA Colombia. Freight door opened while rotating at MIA. Cause never determined (per FAA).

15th Feb 2021, 10:41
IIRC the BAE146 airframe can distort slightly to the extent where the door can’t be closed until the wind speed dies down

...or if the aircraft is parked on slightly sloping ground, as I saw once on an RAF VC10 at Brize. Main deck cargo door wouldn't lock closed so some jumping up and down on the port wingtip did the trick.

15th Feb 2021, 11:28
It's been known to happen with several freight door equipped airframes. I've got a story about a 'twisted' VC10 here: https://www.vc10.net/Memories/everything_raf.html#Twisted

15th Feb 2021, 17:20
rather strange. Cargo doors do give a red light in the cockpit when they are not locked.
Thatīs a very obvious light...

The cargo door light is amber on this one and you can't miss it, there are indicators at the operating panel and last the ramp agent does a walk around and checks for the doors closed.

15th Feb 2021, 20:12
Not familiar with this aircraft, but some operators of the 757 cargo version also have a RED main cargo door warning light above the nose gear green light to indicate that the "main cargo door isn't, closed, latched and locked".

15th Feb 2021, 20:24
Not this one. On the door control panel there is a column of four amber lights. As the door closes they go out sequentially from the bottom indicating in order: closed, latched, locked, vent doors closed. On the same panel there is a master red light which goes out when the door is closed, latched, locked. All these lights are really bright. The master light is repeated on the Cp instrument panel immediately to the right of the PFD and is either red or amber, also very bright. Hopefully this helps.

15th Feb 2021, 22:10
https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/650x445/757pcf_door_control_panel_half_size_b26225ab1d6cf60ef5ec2104 07831d42b86502c2.jpg

Indicator lights 6-9 are, respectively, Vent Door Open, Not Locked, Not Latched, Not Closed.

15th Feb 2021, 22:32

Thanks for the information.
Will be interesting to see what information is released after the mishap.
Glad everything turned out well and kudos to the crew.

16th Feb 2021, 00:58

Cprrect,, had a couple at Brize myself where they couldn’t shut the door after refuel with it open, offloading fuel, shutting it then refuelling again always sorted it.

16th Feb 2021, 07:59
Surprised nobody picked it up, same thing happened to a 757 freighter in 2014, it was updated on AVH yesterday:
A Yakutia Airlines Boeing 757-200 freighter, registration VQ-BPY performing flight R3-9990 from Magadan to Yakutsk (Russia), was climbing out of Magadan when the crew stopped the climb at 2000 meters due to the forward cargo door opening.
The incident was blamed on ice/snow blocking/freezing the latches. That may well have been the case with DHL too with he current cold spell in Europe.

16th Feb 2021, 11:42
I seem to recall a B747 passenger plane having problems with its cargo latches as well and long ago a couple of DC10s used brute force on those nasty latches to force the door closed for awhile.

So to flesh this out we need to understand what fail safe features exist on the B757

16th Feb 2021, 12:36

"Surprised nobody picked it up, same thing happened to a 757 freighter in 2014, it was updated on AVH yesterday"

The Yakutia 757PCF had the same Precision Conversions STC as the DHL aircraft, both installed by Flightstar at Cecil (the Yakutia a couple of years earlier). The two PCFs were the 22nd and 29th conversions, respectively, under that STC.

The damage sustained was notably similar, too, with the inner lining of the door appearing to have been torn off in the airflow.

16th Feb 2021, 12:45
The early 747s had cargo doors in which the locking sectors were too thin to prevent the latches from being driven open by the electric motors in the event of an electrical malfunction. The DC-10 had a locking system that lacked strength in some components, which, along with incorrect rigging, allowed the manual lever to be forced closed while the latches were not fully engaged.

Too soon to say what the issue was on this 757.