Improper Latching Of Cargo Door Results In Nine Passengers Being Sucked Out Of A 747


Improper Latching Of Cargo Door Results In Nine Passengers Being Sucked Out Of  A 747

February 24, 1989, United Airlines, Boeing 747 on a scheduled passenger flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, with Stops in Honolulu, and Auckland, New Zealand. The flight was uneventful until after departure from Honolulu. While climbing from Flight 220 to Flight 230 the crew heard a "thump" Followed by an explosion. An explosive decompression was experienced and the #3 and #4 engines were shutdown. The flight returned to Honolulu and passengers were evacuated. Inspection revealed the forward lower lobe cargo door departed in-flight causing extensive damage to the fuselage and cabin adjacent to the door. Nine Passengers were ejected and lost at sea. Investigation centered around design and certification of the door which allowed it to be improperly latched, and the operation and maintenance to assure airworthiness of the door and latching Mechanism.

The sudden opening of the improperly latched forward lobe cargo door in flight and the subsequent explosive decompression. Contributing to the accident was a deficiency in the design of the cargo door locking mechanisms, which made them susceptible to in-service damage, and which allowed the door to be unattached, yet to show a properly latched and locked position. Also contributing to the accident was The lack of proper maintenance and inspection of the cargo door by united airlines, and a lack of timely corrective actions by Boeing and the FAA following a previous door opening incident. (See Follow Up Report by Martin Aubury)

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