Quite the Fall
This video from the 11th of November shows a cabin crew member falling out of an aircraft, grabbing the doorway edge before losing her grasp and landing on the tarmac below.
The drop from the rear doorway of the 737 is around 2.7 meters (9 feet).
The story was originally reported in the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing. The video was taken by a survellience camera on the airport.
Translations of the article say that the incident happened on a Xiamen Air aircraft at Zhengzhou airport in the Henan Provice. The aircraft, a Boeing 737, was being restocked when the crew member lost her footing and fell out the open cabin door.
The flight was Xiamen MF 8253, a regularly scheduled morning flight from Fuzhou (FOC) which stops at Zhengzhou for an hour before continuing on to Langzou.
The airline, Xiamen Air, posted a statement to Weibo which states simply that the woman fell out of the rear door as the aircraft was making a short stop in Zhengzhou. She had surgery for a broken rib and was expected to stay in hospital for a week.
The South China Morning Post has a detailed article explaining what happened and reports that this is the second such incident in less than a month.
Chinese flight attendant falls out of stationary plane at Zhengzhou airport, suffers broken bones
On October 23, a flight attendant with China Eastern Airlines suffered bone fractures and bruises after falling from the rear door of a stationary aircraft at Shenzhen airport.
She was apparently trying to close the door as the plane was preparing to take off.
I don’t know if we have any cabin crew reading who can weigh in on the incidents but I sure would be interested in hearing more about how this could happen and what safety procedures are (or should have been) in place to avoid this.
Two similar incidents in a month isn’t in itself damning, but in the authorities’ place, I would be asking how often it happened over, say, the last year.
I received the following in my email from a captain who was kind enough to respond to my query above. I have his permission to share it with you:
As a normal procedure every open cabin door is secured by a strong black/yellow coloured belt whenever no external stairs or a passenger boarding bridge is attached to the aircraft. This belt connects the left door frame with the right one at an height of about 1.40 m and is strong enough to stop any person ‚running‘ against it.
This video shows something different: there is a catering truck parked at the airplane having its loading device (like a bridge) extended towards the rear passenger door. This kind of bridge is usually not extended all the way to the airplanes fuselage to avoid damage of the plane while the truck moves. To cover the last gap of probably 50 – 80cm a piece of metal is usually used to enable the catering staff walking between the truck and the airplane and to enable the staff to move the catering trolleys between the truck and the plane.
Watching this video closely the following seems to have happend (speaking from my own experience): The loading has been finished, the metal plate covering the gap has already been removed, the flight attendant noticed that something of her catering stuff was missing, literally jumped back to the catering truck and when she went back to the airplane she simply stepped right into the gap between the fixed loading bridge of the truck and the airplane.
Accidents like this are actually well known in airline operations. E.g.: a flight attendant opened the passenger door again because she forgot something. At the same moment when she puts her first foot out on the stairs the stair driver moves the stairs away from the airplane since he always does this after the doors have been closed for departure. In this case the flight attendant fell down from a DC-10 in Frankfurt many years ago. She barely survived.