Man who opened Asiana Airlines plane door mid-air ‘wanted to get off quickly’
A passenger on an Asiana Airlines flight heading from the southern island of Jeju to the southeastern city of Daegu opened the emergency exit door mid-air, causing panic on board.
It happened Friday just minutes before the plane was about to land, still flying around 700 feet above the ground. According to Yonhap news agency, the man – in his thirties – told police he felt “uncomfortable” and “wanted to get off the plane quickly.”
The passenger also highlighted his mental stress from losing his job recently before the officers.
He felt the plane was taking longer to reach its destination and felt suffocated inside the cabin, a Daegu police detective said. The passenger faces up to 10 years of imprisonment for not abiding by the aviation safety rules.
Nine other passengers were rushed to hospital with breathing issues upon landing in Daegu. All were discharged a couple of hours later, a fire department official said.
According to Yonhap, police intend to arrest the detained man after all investigations conclude.
A video apparently shot by a nearby passenger has been getting viral on social media. It shows people sitting near the open door being buffeted by strong winds forcing their way inside.
It was chaos with some passengers appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants asking for doctors on board, a 44-year-old passenger told the news agency.
According to Jin Seong-hyun, a former Korean Air cabin safety official, while the case from Friday is potentially unprecedented, there have earlier been instances of passengers opening emergency doors without authorisation while the plane is on the ground.
Emergency exits could be opened at or near ground level because the pressures outside and inside the cabin were similar, a South Korean transport ministry official informed Friday.