Air NZ emer­gency exit used to hang bags

The Dominion Post - - News - Ruby Ma­can­drew ruby.ma­can­[email protected]

En­sur­ing all items are stowed in the over­head locker or un­der a seat is a uni­ver­sally un­der­stood rule for fly­ers but it ap­pears some cabin crew missed the memo.

A pas­sen­ger on an Air New Zealand flight from Auck­land to Perth re­cently spot­ted air­line staff leav­ing drinks trays, wa­ter bot­tles and laun­dry bags on an emer­gency door han­dle. They sought an ex­pla­na­tion.

In re­sponse, a spokesper­son for the na­tional car­rier said there was no im­pact on the safety of its cus­tomers around the place­ment of the wa­ter bot­tle or the linen bag on the door han­dle.

‘‘As the air­craft is pres­surised in-flight, the place­ment of these items do not present a risk of in­ad­ver­tent door open­ing. In the event of a pre­pared emer­gency, these items would be stowed.’’

It is im­pos­si­ble to open a door while the cabin is pres­surised but if a pi­lot is aware of an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, they can de­scend to a lower al­ti­tude and de­pres­surise the cabin so the flight crew can open the exit door if needed.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA), which sets and main­tains the rules that air­lines fol­low to fly safely, re­quires air­craft cab­ins be se­cured for take-off and land­ing. That means any­thing that could block an exit or hin­der evac­u­a­tion must be stowed dur­ing the ‘‘crit­i­cal phases of flight’’.

A CAA spokesper­son said while there was no rule around crew plac­ing items on the door han­dle or slide bus­tle, best prac­tice would sug­gest not to do so.

Af­ter be­ing ap­proached by CAA’s cabin safety in­spec­tor about best prac­tice, Air New Zealand ap­pears to have done a 180 on its ini­tial stance.

‘‘They have ad­vised that they don’t en­dorse a door to be used as a han­gar or a bench and will com­mu­ni­cate this with their crew,’’ the CAA spokesper­son said.

A pas­sen­ger on an Air New Zealand flight saw crew hang­ing a laun­dry bag on an emer­gency door han­dle.

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