Reader complaint: Why was plane door not closed properly?

2013-10-18 12:49
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

In-flight myths busted

A few common misconceptions about flying, and why they're not true.

The airworthiness of planes flying South African passengers was recently raised in Parliament, with the Civil Aviation Authority detailing the number of Airworthiness certificates issued within the industry.

Flying is one of the safest means of travelling – with the odds of risk for passengers of commercial airlines being one in 45 million flights. According to The New York Times, a traveller could fly every day for 123 000 years and still be safe.

But imagine the scenario.

You’re settling into your flight after the nerve-wracking take-off, either avoiding the elbow jostle with your fellow passenger or contemplating whether to order a drink, when your pilot announces he has to turn the plane around because the door has not been closed properly.

This is exactly what happened with a kulula passenger last Thursday when his Durban-bound flight MN641 had to return to OR Tambo International in Johannesburg.

The reader has asked to remain anonymous but had the following to say in his email, “There was a hissing noise in the cabin and the cabin was very cold.

“The captain advised that this was due to the door not being closed properly and we had to return to OR tambo to get the door checked.

“The door was subsequently closed properly and the flight took off again.”

The reader raised the question of why on board an aircraft systems had not shown the door malfunction before take-off and whether a perfunctory approach had been taken by the ground staff concerned?

We contact kulula and the Civil Aviation Authority to find out more.

Shaun Pozyn, Marketing Manager for low cost airline kulula said, “The flight which took off just after 18:00 from Johannesburg to Durban last Thursday, had to unfortunately turn around just after take-off.

“Although the doors were properly closed, locked and secured, the sealing mechanism was slightly off and therefore the cabin could not pressurise properly, hence the reason for the aircraft turning around.”

“At no point in time were any of our customers or crew at any risk, and although the sealing was slightly misaligned, the door's locking mechanisms were all engaged and locked,” said Pozyn.

But how exactly does something like this go unnoticed.

According to the CAA, Line Engineers are responsible for releasing the aircraft for flight after the "start checklists have been completed” and that most modern airplanes have what is known as a Master Warning & Caution System. There is also Engine Indicating & Crew alerting Systems on board.

“These would warn of any abnormal system or malfunction and sometimes an impending emergency. In the case of a door not being properly closed, the Message display or Status Display would show a leak in the duct pressure or seal leak on the Door Panels. This is sometimes a gradual process rather than a sudden warning or emergency and if it’s a minor malfunction might come as a caution to the pilots,” the CAA said in an emailed response to our questions.

kulula says a full investigation has taken place and preventative steps have been implemented to ensure this does not happen again.

When the airworthiness of this aircraft was queried with Comair the operator of kulula, it said, “All aircraft operated by Comair have a valid Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA).  This is renewed annually by Comair at the SACAA. An aircraft is not permitted to fly if it does not have a valid CofA and SAA Technical can only declare the aircraft serviceable for commercial flight, if there is a valid CofA’.” 

Have you had any safety issues while travelling? Tell us about it by emailing info@news24travel.com

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
8 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel

 
/News

#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.