Asiana Airlines: man arrested for opening plane door during flight

Key points
  • An Asiana Airlines passenger opened an airplane door during a flight.
  • Nine people were taken to the hospital with breathing problems, but no one was hurt.
  • The airline said a man sitting in a row near the exit pulled a lever as the plane was about to land. He was arrested.
South Korean police have detained a man who opened the door of an Asiana Airlines plane minutes before it was due to land in the city of Daegu, causing panic among passengers, officials said.
The Airbus A321-200 landed safely around 12:40 (13:40 AEST) on Friday.

According to the airport’s flight schedule, the plane took off from the resort island of Jeju an hour earlier.

Medics carry a man on a stretcher.

Rescuers transport students on stretchers at Daegu International Airport. The students were among the 194 passengers on board the Asiana Airlines plane. Source: AARP / Yonhap

Nine passengers, all teenagers, were sent to the hospital due to breathing problems, according to a Daegu fire department spokesman.

“I thought the plane was about to explode… It looked like the passengers next to the open door were losing consciousness,” an unidentified 44-year-old passenger told the Yonhap news agency.
The passenger said the flight attendants made an in-flight announcement asking if there were doctors on board.
Video shown on television, reportedly filmed by a passenger, showed moments before landing with the door open and wind rushing in as the passengers were seated nearby.
The Department of Transportation said in a statement that police detained the man who opened the door, and authorities are investigating violations of air safety laws.
A transport ministry spokesman told Reuters that authorities were looking into whether Asiana Airlines followed protocols for managing emergency exits.

The official said that the emergency exit could be opened when the plane was near the ground because the pressure inside and outside the cabin was the same.

The plane was two or three minutes from landing, Asiana said, when a male passenger sitting next to the emergency exit opened the lid and pulled a lever, so that the door opened about 200 meters above the ground.
Everyone on board was seated with their seat belts fastened because the plane was about to land, a spokesman said.
After the incident, the photographs showed an open emergency door near the left wing of the aircraft and a deployed emergency valve torn off from it.
“This is especially dangerous during landing and takeoff, so someone from the flight crew had to stop this passenger,” said Song Myung-hwan, a professor in the Department of Aviation Maintenance at Sehan University in South Korea.

“It seems to me that it is difficult for an airline to walk away from any potential liability here,” he said.