A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Manchester, England to Islamabad faced a seven-hour delay on Friday night after a passenger somehow mistook the emergency exit for a toilet. The female passenger onboard Friday night’s PIA flight PK702 inadvertently opened the exit while the plane was on the ground at Manchester airport – because the exit was ‘armed’ the emergency slide was automatically deployed.
It’s not entirely clear how the woman mistook the emergency exit for a toilet. As a reminder, this is the what a Boeing 777 door looks like…
As you can see, in order to open the door you have to pull the lever up and over 18o degrees. It takes quite some effort to pull the lever but once you’ve completed this movement, an emergency system automatically takes over and pushes the door out into the open position, causing the slide to deploy.
If the door had not been ‘armed’ then the slide would not deploy and the door would only open if pushed outwards.
Meanwhile, a lavatory door looks something like this…
Cabin crew and flight attendants are more than used to seeing the lavatory door ashtray being pulled off its hinges. Seeing passengers struggle to open the bifold doors is often a cause of amusement but a passenger accidentally opening an emergency exit has got to be a new one.
Unfortunately, the woman’s mistake meant that 37 passengers had to be offloaded in order to comply with Pakistani civil aviation rules relating to the ratio of usable exits vs. the number of passengers onboard. Once the slide was removed, the aircraft was allowed to leave Manchester and a replacement slide will be fitted at PIA’s maintenance facilities in Pakistan.
A spokesperson for PIA confirmed the incidents, telling reporters:
“The PIA flight, PK 702, from Manchester to Islamabad was delayed by seven hours. The departure was delayed on Friday night when a passenger erroneously opened the emergency exit causing the emergency chute to activate.”
“As per standard operating procedure, the PIA had to offload nearly 40 passengers and their luggage,” the spokesperson continued.
An inquiry has apparently been ordered.