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Access to cargo bay

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Access to cargo bay

Old 20th Jul 2022, 19:15
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Access to cargo bay

Helping a writer friend with a book - I currently fly the 737, he wants to know if there is access from the passenger cabin to the cargo that a man could fit thru. I explained there is a blow out panel, but wasn't sure if a man could fit through it. Do any of you fly a large plane that has access like what you see in the movies? Not a ATR or Q400.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:14
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The A300 had access to the forward belly hold via the under floor avionics bay below the cockpit. There was a hatch behind the captains seat to get below and there were two doors from there into the hold. Most of the time you wouldn't be able to get anywhere as the hold would be full of containers. I remember frightening the loaders by opening one of the doors one day whilst doing a pre-flight check.
I think the DC-10 had the same arrangement,
I don't know if newer types have such access.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:42
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I don't think there is such access on the 737 - whenever we had to go into the electronics bay on the 737 or 757, we came in from outside.
Widebodies - 747/767/777 all have an access panel just aft of the flightdeck under some carpet in first class (obviously lower deck on the 747). I assume the 787 is the same but no first hand experience.
Getting from the E-bay to the cargo bay is a different matter...
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:51
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The old Vickers Vanguard (VC9) had access to the forward cargo bay from the flight-deck. There was carpet from the flight-deck door to the back of the 3rd pilot’s seat. If rolled back, this revealed a hatch in the floor which went down into the (IIRC) radio bay. From there another hatch went into the hydraulics bay and a third one took you into the forward hold.

We had occasion to utilize this one day when going on an inaugural flight to Budapest from Heathrow. As this was the first flight, we carried an airborne spanner as there was no station staff as yet. About twenty minutes after take off, the cabin chief came up and said that a first class passenger had just remembered that he had left his brief case in the forward lounge. Could we please alert the company and try to retrieve it? As we were still within range, we gave ‘Mother’ a call and passed the information. 5 minutes later we got a call back to say that the dispatcher has spotted it and (this being in the days before security), he had chucked it into the forward hold just before push-back. This gave the flying spanner something to do, so up came the carpet and the hatch and down went the engineer. There were several bangs and bumps and a certain amount of dust and then – lo and behold – up came the spanner clutching the briefcase!

We rang for the cabin chief and explained that we had sent a messenger back and here was the briefcase. We never explained.

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Old 20th Jul 2022, 22:10
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That's sent me to bed with a smile on my face. Ah, the ol' days.................
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 22:58
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I couldn't agree more with jethro15 -- your anecdote made my day! Thanks!
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 23:55
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To Answer the original question there is no access to the cargo bays on the 737. The freighter conversions vary in design depending on who completed the mod. AEI, IAI and PEMCO all have blow-out panels either side of the 9G bulkhead but they are not entry points to anywhere and only designed to equalise pressure either side of the bulkhead. I have not seen the 737-800 conversion yet but I can't imagine it to be any different.

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Old 21st Jul 2022, 02:22
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In my airline days in the early eighties, my airline flew three 707-320C's. One of our flights departed, and for reasons not offered to ATC, asked to remain below 10,000 feet for the first 30 minutes of the flight. Quizzically, request approved. It came out much later that "someone" had forgotten to remove, and check removed, the nosegear down lock pin. Rather than dump fuel, and return, just to pull the pin, the flight engineer went down into the forward hold, then removed the pressure panel giving access to the nose gear, reached out, pulled the pin, and re-installed the pressure panel. With that, the nose gear was retraced, and the flight continued normally.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 07:25
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Most business jets of Super-mid size and up (i.e. Challenger 300) have a full size door from the rear lav into the hold
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 08:27
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In the Lockheed TriStar L1011 you had at least access from the Cabin to the Aft Cargo Hold, as well as through the Avionic Bay to the Foreward Cargo Hold.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 09:46
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Good old A340 ✅
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 10:19
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Originally Posted by A319
Good old A340 ✅
What do you mean "OLD"?
As far as I'm concerned the A340 is "NEW". I was on the A300.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 10:43
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Hey Pilot DAR,
Nice story mate. How exactly did your hero gain access to the NLG which is so very far forward of the FWD cargo hold in the B707-300 series? Where exactly is this "pressure panel" giving access to the NLG many metres away? What about the NLG pin? Remember that the one used at all terminals in the world for departures was the "bicycle pin". This is a long metal rod with a gear pin on the end of it and a piece of metal like a bicycle handlebars to enable the pin to be fitted and removed.
Sorry but that's bulldust. Simply impossible even if the "pressure panel" existed.
Oh yeah, I hold B707 Command rating, FEO rating and eng/airframe licences on this type.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 11:54
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I hold B707 Command rating, FEO rating and eng/airframe licences on this type.
Fair enough, I do not. When the explanation was sought as the to the reason for asking for "below 10,000 feet" for a half an hour after takeoff, and routing to accommodate that, that was the explanation given to ATC, whose department head told me. I knew the crew involved, and knew them to be resourceful and motivated to minimize the effect of an omission, but I did not fact check the report myself. As a very junior staff member at the time, my prying into the details of what had been reported would have been inappropriate, so I accepted as reported....
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 21:03
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Stranger than fiction?

Funnily enough I read a thriller fiction a couple of years back which included this very thing on a 777. If you like a bit of aeronautical action look for 'Taken Flight' on Amazon. A page turner!
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 11:58
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Access to the NLG on the B707 is from the avionics compartment, via the hatch in the flight deck floor, behind the left hand seat, where you would have sat if you had a command rating and to your left if you were a FEO, not sure about the pressure panel, but there are viewing windows to do a visual check for down and locked. Also behind the NLG housing there is stowage for the "Johnson Bar". This was used as the last ditch effort to lower the gear when you couldn't get it down hydraulically or by the manual release handles on the on the flight deck floor.
All the 707 gear pins that I have ever seen looked nothing like the one you describe, they were all of the large round "Pip Pin" type with a big red "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" banner usually unreadable due to being covered in oil.
I have heard the story of the Load Master, Flying Spanner, Flight Engineer, whoever was telling the story, of how they managed to open the external avionics hatch just behind the NLG bay (which can be opened from inside as well) and stretch out of the aeroplane and remove the pin in flight. Not sure if it was really possible to reach the pin from there, as I always made sure I removed it on my walk round, so never had to try.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 14:17
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The 707 had access to the forward baggage hold but not allowed to use it in flight.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 15:49
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I heard a Rumour there might be some News. Which is it?
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 16:08
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VC 10 had a hatch in the fwd galley floor that dropped you down via a step into the avionics bay with a low corridor that lead you aft to a door at the rear and into the fwd cargo bay, there was another smaller hatch where you could get outside in the bottom of the floor, or of course the baggage bay door. I once after stowing the engine blanks came forward to be met with the a young Air Loadmaster in a skirt straddling the hatch while making the see off guys a coffee.. a quick cough had everyone in stiches and a slightly red faced young lady.

external hatch in the floor

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Old 23rd Jul 2022, 05:27
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Boeing 337 had a floor hatch in the flightdeck, one that went aft to the main deck that, on the Guppy, had a set of stairs and at least one lift-out access panel.
Nobody mentioned the 747?
In extremis, one could fairly easily chop through the laminated fibre boards that nearly all Airliners use for flooring. Fire-axe will do it. Hard to explain to Eng afterwards, though.
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