A passenger onboard an Asiana Airlines flight from Jeju to Daegu in South Korea has been arrested on suspicion of forcibly opening one of the doors of an Airbus A321 aircraft while still in flight at around 800 feet on final approach for landing, local police have confirmed.
Dramatic video shared on social media shows the void of where the door should be and wind blowing into the packed passenger cabin during the May 26 flight, which was operating under flight number OZ8124.
The Airbus A321 aircraft involved in the incident is a single-aisle aircraft with four passengers door on either side. The door which appears to have been opened is the third door on the left-hand side of the plane, which is normally only used in an emergency.
There is a flight attendant jumpseat located on the opposite side of the aircraft, and in the event of an emergency, one crew member is expected to operate both doors. The flight attendant sitting on the right-hand side of the aircraft would not have been able to stop someone tampering with the left-hand door.
According to local media reports, the passenger sitting next to the door forcibly opened the door when the aircraft was on final approach to Daegu. Once below the certain altitude, pressurisation inside the cabin would drop to a level that would make it technically possible to open the exit door.
The Daegu Metropolitan Police Department says it has arrested a man in his 30s for breaking aviation law. The man, identified only as ‘A’, remains in police custody.
Around six passengers had to be transported to a local hospital complaining of breathing difficulties, but no serious injuries were reported. The extent of the damage to the aircraft is unclear.
Some planes are fitted with speed sensors which lock aircraft doors shut until the plane has dropped below a certain speed, but this safety mechanism isn’t present on all commercial jets.
In an eerily similar incident in 2021, a passenger onboard an Embraer E45 regional jet operated on behalf of United Express managed to partially open the cabin door in the final moments of the flight.
In that incident, a flight attendant was sitting right by the exit and managed to hold onto the door to prevent it from ripping open while other passengers jumped up from their seats to restrain the assailant.
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.