A Finnair flight attendant was seriously injured after he fell around three and a half metres (approximately 11.5 feet) from the open door of an Airbus A320 aircraft when the mobile steps attached to the rear left-hand door were suddenly driven away. Accident investigators released their final report into the January 13 incident on Wednesday, concluding a lack of communication between flight attendants was most likely to blame for the accident.
Finnair flight AY450 from Oulu to Helsinki had arrived without incident and passengers had disembarked via mobile stairs onto a waiting bus a short time before the accident. A flight attendant at the back of the plane gave an ‘Okay’ sign to the driver of the bus and then closed the rear left-hand door to keep the cold out.
At this point, the bus would normally drive away and the mobile steps would be removed from the rear doors. But on that morning, another aircraft was taxiing nearby and the bus driver and mobile steps had been instructed to wait a few minutes.
Thinking something was wrong, the purser at the front of the plane asked the crew members at the back whether they had actually given the ‘Okay’ sign as they are meant to do.
A third crew member thought he should show the ‘Okay’ sign so rushed to open the rear-left hand door, stepped onto the mobile steps and gave the sign to the bus driver.
By this time, the other aircraft had passed and the bus driver and mobile steps had just been given permission to move. As the crew member went to step back onboard the plane, both the bus and mobile steps drove away. The crew member couldn’t get back onboard the plane, slipped and plunged onto the tarmac below.
Emergency services luckily reached the scene quickly and the flight attendant was rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment. Although the injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening.
The accident investigation team believe a lack of communication between crew members was partially responsible for the accident, while Finnair has been asked to make it clearer what responsibilities different crew members have – such as who is responsible for giving the ‘Okay’ sign.
Finnair has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.