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Aircraft door seals and safety
Old 06-16-2014, 02:52 PM   #1
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Aircraft door seals and safety

We were waiting to board a MD-88 out of Atlanta day yesterday. Before boarding they announce "maintenance has found an issue, we'll let you know details asap". Eventually we are sent to a different gate and aircraft. The pilot comes on to explain "thanks for your patience, the door seal(s) on that last plane were worn out, it's not air worthy, not safe to fly". The airline did a great job, we were only an hour or so late getting home.

My question is, do they inspect on every flight? That aircraft had just arrived in Atlanta, from somewhere. Was it inspected before that takeoff? Or was it unsafe then? Perhaps they only inspect after X hours of flight time. I assume a seal doesn't wear out on one flight, but maybe got damaged somehow? Figured someone here would have some more knowledge than me. Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:00 PM   #2
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Somebody's gonna get at least a butt-chewing for that one. Regular maintenance should have caught it. The pilot also does a walk-around before the flight and he or another crew member might have seen it.

That said, airliners are inspected/maintained by the number of flight hours. Some items might be inspected every 25 hours, other things every 100 hours or sometimes hundreds of hours depending on what the schedule calls for. Others, like tires, are visually checked before each takeoff.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:01 PM   #3
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I don't know what the inspection procedures are, but I am glad they took the precaution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...nes_Flight_811
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:04 PM   #4
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That's quite a topical question, as just three days ago, the passenger door of a float plane opened in flight in western Canada (it was over water, and the passenger was holding a baby!!!!).

Harbour Air float plane door opens mid-air on flight from Vancouver - British Columbia - CBC News

Scheduled passenger aviation on major North American and European airlines is one of the safest means of transportation, with a strong safety culture. Nevertheless, aircraft are so complex that it's impossible to check everything every time.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:07 PM   #5
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Chuckanut, it may have been the cargo door. During the time afer the first announcement there was another one stating the pilot was going below with the maintenance crew.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRG View Post
Chuckanut, it may have been the cargo door. During the time afer the first announcement there was another one stating the pilot was going below with the maintenance crew.
It was the cargo door that failed and started the problem.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:27 PM   #7
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I'm surprised someone on the crew thought it necessary to make a statement to passengers indicating the airplane they had been on was unsafe to fly.

A bad door seal would be an inconvenience, but would seem unlikely to be a safety issue unless the plane couldn't be made to hold sufficient pressure.

Somewhat related historical note:
The largest loss of life in any USAF aircraft accident was due to the failure of the locks on the (huge) cargo door of a C-5 aircraft during the first flight of Operation Babylift at the end of the Vietnam War. When the door tore away it severed all control lines to the tail --so, no rudder, no elevator control. One aileron remained functional. Through some fairly amazing airmanship the crew was able to fly the plane back to Vietnam and a controlled forced landing. 138 people died, 178 survived the crash. The pilot's account of the event is here.
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:47 AM   #8
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I suspect the Pilots concern was related to cabin pressurization. This does include the cargo area below the passenger floor.
BTW those MD 88's are really old airplanes and near end of service. Time for the Airlines in the US to invest in modern aircraft now that they have finally become profitable. Yes, I prefer they buy Boeing.
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