What would happen if you opened an airplane door in mid-air?
Their flurrying attempts to escape are usually halted by crew members.
Such as last year, when a Delta Airlines plane flying from Seattle to Beijing was interrupted by a passenger attempting to open the emergency exit, thousands of feet up.
Whilst the passenger, Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, did not succeed in opening the door, an altercation broke out causing two flight attendants to grab him “in an effort to subdue him”.
When later questioned by the FBI, one of the flight attendants commented: “The lever being at the 90 degree position would alert the pilot that the door was disarmed.”
“At a lower altitude, and with the door being disarmed as it was, it was possible that the door would open.”
Anyone opening the door might be blasted into the sky
Anyone standing near the exit would be ejected into the sky. The plane itself might even break to break apart.
But this begs the question: what would happen if you were to open an aircraft door mid-flight, thousands of feet up in the sky? And more importantly, is it even possible?
Think of an airplane as a sealed environment with a controlled air pressure.
Should the airplane door open mid-flight, sudden decompression would cause disaster to strike – some believing in half a second.
And the impact would be devastating: “anyone standing near the exit would be ejected into the sky, ” pilot Patrick Smith said when speaking to The Telegraph.
Opening the emergency exit in mid-air is never advisable
“The plane itself might even break to break apart”.
But, as terrifying as this sounds, you needn’t worry – the chances of this happening are extremely unlikely.
Aviation expert Jason Rabinowitz told Travel + Leisure that due to the difference in pressure both inside and outside the cabin, it would be “physically impossible” to open an airplane door mid-flight.
The difference in pressure means you would need superhuman amounts of strength to be able to open the door, or according to Smith, a “hydraulic jack”.
You would also need to overcome the TSA lock which is only accessible via the cockpit. But this hasn’t stopped people from trying.
The Delta flight was forced to perform a U-turn, back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, some two hours after it first took off.
Hudek was escorted off the plane and arrested, leaving the other 210 passengers back where they started, instead of their desired destination: Beijing.
He was later indicted with one count of interference with flight crew members, a charge which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, as well as a £195,000 fine.
So, whilst it is near impossible to open a door mid-flight due to the air pressure, you are likely to face criminal charges, annoy other passengers and cause severe delays.