Airline Denies Opening Door at 12,000 Feet to Retrieve Strap : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Mar 9, 2000 - 04:20 PM

Airline Denies Opening Door at 12,000 Feet to Retrieve Strap

The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - American Airlines denied an airline passenger's claim Thursday that a flight engineer opened a door in the plane at 12,000 feet to pull in a loose strap.

When crew members on Flight 1558 from Miami to Newark realized that a restraining strap was left hanging out of the plane, the captain depressurized the cabin and leveled the Boeing 727 while a flight engineer and a flight attendant pulled the strap through the door seals, the airline said.

Passengers may have heard a rush of air and felt their ears pop when the pilot adjusted the pressure in the cabin to fly at a different altitude, but opening a door at 12,000 feet would have been impossible, the airline said in a statement.

The procedure is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the airline and Boeing as an acceptable one, FAA spokesman Les Door said Thursday.

"It would be similar to trying to open a door on a car traveling at 300 miles per hour," the airline said.

"The strap did not have a buckle on it. The door was not opened. The strap was pulled through the door seal," Door added.

Passenger Cora Diaz, 39, told The Star-Ledger of Newark in Thursday editions that she was sitting at the back of the airplane and saw the flight engineer and two crew members unlock the door and push it. As the cabin pressure changed, crew members retrieved the strap, which she said ended in a metal buckle.

"Everybody picked up their heads and said, 'What's going on? What's going on?'" said Diaz, 39.

The incident occurred at 2:25 p.m. over Jacksonville, Fla., The Miami Herald reported Thursday. A Herald reporter on board the flight said the pilot said the strap's buckle was banging against the plane and he feared it could be sucked into the engine.

American Airlines spokesman Chris Chiames said the strap had snaps, but no buckle. The strap was inadvertently left hanging out of the door by food service workers, the airline said.

Diaz said the flight was full, but it was unclear how many passengers or crew members were aboard. The plane left Miami at 1:30 p.m. and landed at about 4:40 p.m.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 10, 2000

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