In an alarming incident on Friday, a passenger aboard a South Korean commercial flight was apprehended for opening an emergency exit door while the aircraft was airborne, creating a situation straight out of an action thriller.
According to The Associated Press, despite the open door, the plane was able to land safely.
The Asiana Airlines jet was in flight from the idyllic island of Jeju, off the southern coast of South Korea, en route to the bustling city of Daegu. The heart-stopping incident took place when the aircraft was still a staggering 700 feet above ground.
As per reports from CNN, the door was thrown open just two to three minutes before the plane was scheduled to land.
Passengers aboard the plane recounted that crew members called out for assistance to prevent the man from opening the door, but their efforts were in vain.
Cellphone footage captured by various passengers revealed the chilling scene of daylight pouring in through the open door, causing a whirlwind inside the cabin, tossing around passengers’ hair and clothing.
The flight had 194 passengers and six crew members on board. Post the unsettling event, twelve individuals were provided medical assistance at local hospitals for “minor symptoms,” which included breathing issues, as reported by AP.
CNN reached out to Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert, who described the incident as “very bizarre.”
“Technically, it’s not possible to open those doors in flight,” Thomas commented. “It’s quite inexplicable how the door could be opened initially, and then against the airstream technically impossible, but astonishingly, it occurred.”
Asiana Airlines provided some insight into how such a surreal event could occur.
They explained, “The airplane is automatically set to adjust the pressure of the cabin according to the altitude of the aircraft. When the aircraft is high up in the air, it is impossible to open the door but when the altitude is low and close to landing, the door can be opened.”
Local law enforcement reported that the detained passenger confessed to his daring act of opening the door, although he didn’t disclose his motives.
A statement from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport suggested that the individual could potentially face a severe penalty if found guilty of violating aviation safety law – a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.