Ask the pilot - Can the doors accidentally open during a flight?
About Jostein Sørli
Career: Alongside his pilot training, Sørli worked as ground staff in Tromsø. He then flew Boeing 737s for another airline before joining SAS three years ago.
Home base: OSL
Flies: Boeing 737
Flight hours: 3,500
Can the doors accidentally open during a flight?
No is the short answer! On modern airliners the doors can’t really be opened in flight, but I’ll do my best to explain why. If you ever watch closely as an aircraft door is opened or closed, you can see how it actually goes inwards a bit before going outwards. This is because most aircraft use what is called a “plug door,” named because when the door is closed it actually works as a plug in the fuselage by being slightly bigger on the inside. When we fly, the air pressure inside is always higher than it is outside the aircraft. High up, the air is thin and cold, so the higher inside air pressure helps maintain a comfortable environment on board. On most aircraft the pressure can go up to about eight times higher inside than outside. A side effect of this difference in pressure is that everything on the inside of the aircraft skin is pushed outwards and seals off all the exits, including the doors. So up in the air, the aircraft’s door is pushed into place by a force far greater than what you and I will ever be able to overcome by muscle force. Therefore, to answer your question, no – the doors can’t accidentally be opened in flight.
Published: November 9, 2021