x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Etihad crew tackle unruly passenger

Female passenger tackled on Abu Dhabi-Dublin flight after trying to open aircraft door

ABU DHABI // Cabin crew on an Etihad Airways flight bound for Dublin earlier this week tackled an unruly passenger as she attempted to open the aircraft’s door.

The woman passenger, believed to be Irish and aged in her 20s, was arrested by the Irish police, the Gardai, after the plane touched down in Dublin.

Officers boarded flight EY045 from Abu Dhabi before passengers disembarked and she was taken into custody.

Prior to the incident on Monday, the woman was continuously pressing the call button on the eight-hour, direct flight.

Etihad staff warned the passenger about her behaviour, according to Irish newspaper reports.

An off-duty Etihad staff member tried to calm the woman down but as the plane made its final approach to Dublin airport, the passenger became more erratic and said she would open the door.

Once she approached the door, she was tackled by the cabin crew and restrained by four crew members before the police boarded.

Despite the fears of an open door on a plane in flight, an aviation expert said it was impossible for a passenger to open the doors on most commercial aircraft.

Saj Ahmed, an aviation analyst with the UK-based FBE Aerospace, said: “It is not only because of the pressurised cabin. There is a locking measure.”

When the plane taxis along the runway, passengers can hear “cross check” over the speaker system. “That is when the doors are all are synced and locked,” Mr Ahmed said. After that time, the doors can only be opened from the outside or from the flight deck.

Mr Ahmed said a similar situation arose when he was on a plane taxiing on a runway at Dubai International Airport in December. The passenger, he said, was drunk and tried to open the door.

The flight was delayed by six hours because the passenger’s bag had to be removed and security checks were carried out on all other luggage.

“This was when we were taxiing. Imagine what its like in the air,” he said.

He added that people often try to open the door for various reasons, including medical and psychological.

“It is very difficult to open the door as a layman passenger,” Mr Ahmed said. “I don’t know a  regular Joe Bloggs traveller who could open the door. Since September 11, security on doors got even stricter, even on cargo doors.”

He added that sometimes passengers even try to break the windows, which is virtually impossible.

eharnan@thenational.ae