How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

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Wilfried
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How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Wilfried » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:28 pm

I really thought about sharing this experience here in the forum, but finally decided to do so. I am always keen on learning from mistakes that others made by NTSB incident reports, from “I learned about flying from that…” or other sources. So why not sharing my “incident”, although it is a little bit embarrassing.

We were heading back in our DA42 from Oshkosh to Germany. For the first day of our trip back we planned 1.500NM with stops in Gore Bay, La Grand Riviere and Iqaluit. We were in good mood, but tired when we approached Iqaluit in the evening hours. We wanted to make an overnight stop and were happy that we got the last hotel rooms, of which Iqaluit has not many to offer.

We were approaching Iqaluit and expectedly went IMC during the approach. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves in moderate turbulence that shook us through during the approach. During turbulence the door open warning on the PFD signaled DOOR OPEN, we checked both doors visually, touched the latches, did not find anything, tightened the seat belts and finally managed to land safely.

Next day, we got up early, since we wanted to make it until Reykjavik. We did a careful outside check, put our immersion suits on and started the engines to warm up. The DOOR OPEN warning went on again, but both of us thought about yesterday and did not pay special attention. It was our 50+ flight hour on this trip within the last 7 days. We did the checklist by “standard flow” and visual check in the cabin starting with the middle console, panel from right to left and ending with the main switch.

After taxi and departure clearance we made a backtrack on RWY34 and took off. During the climb out I noticed that it was loud in the cabin and checked the power switch of my noise cancellation headphones, but found them to be switched on. I looked back over my left shoulder and realized that the cabin door was open. I told my co-pilot friend “the cabin door is open”. He looked at the latch and turned back. He is a hero in acrobatic flying in his Extra 300 and Bücker-Jungmann, has a much longer track record than me in flying, but is not very familiar with a DA42. While he was turning back, I remembered that the POH says “reland and close” in this case. So I started to tell him that, but only uttered the first few words. He started trying to close the door during flight. All of a sudden, the cabin door was torn off with a blast and it became loud and cold in the cabin. Happily the door did not hit the structure of the plane. I remembered FLY THE AIRPLANE! and was totally focused on controls, speed and attitude. We declared an emergency and landed the plane safely.

On the ground, after collecting our minds, and some phone calls, we were happy to hear that Diamond in Ontario had the right door on stock for us, ready for immediate shipping. Staff was very supportive and quick. The door arrived next day with FirstAir, we were ready to go next day and flew to Reykjavik. We also found the old one in by helicopter. It will get a special place in my garage as an expensive souvenir…

So what went wrong? I believe there is often not only one reason when things go wrong (“Swiss Cheese Model”)
Mistake no. 1 - I think is not using the Checklist (active failure)
Mistake no. 2 - not paying attention to the door open warning (latent failure).
Mistake no. 3 - not being short and precise in emergency situations “do not touch the door, we have to reland…” (active failure)

So, that was my story and I hope that others might learn from it.
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TimS
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby TimS » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:42 pm

I think you should submit that to the usual suspect magazines, Flying, AOPA, EAA Sport Aviation....
Well written, and definitely a good lesson.

Tim
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Rich
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Rich » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:03 pm

I check the FAA accident/incident website with some regularity. Having this door fly off is far from an unusual occurrence, showing up several times a year. But you won't find it in the NTSB site because it has so far always been a benign event. The door flies off without causing any more serious consequences.
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Steve
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Steve » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:14 pm

Rich wrote:I check the FAA accident/incident website with some regularity. Having this door fly off is far from an unusual occurrence, showing up several times a year. But you won't find it in the NTSB site because it has so far always been a benign event. The door flies off without causing any more serious consequences.


Yes, those aerodynamicists at Diamond designed the rear hatch with just the right airfoil to fly it over the tail...
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Rich
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Rich » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:17 pm

Inquiring minds need to know: Did the gas strut go with the door or stay with the airplane :scratch: ?
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TimS
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby TimS » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:21 pm

Steve wrote:
Rich wrote:I check the FAA accident/incident website with some regularity. Having this door fly off is far from an unusual occurrence, showing up several times a year. But you won't find it in the NTSB site because it has so far always been a benign event. The door flies off without causing any more serious consequences.


Yes, those aerodynamicists at Diamond designed the rear hatch with just the right airfoil to fly it over the tail...


Was the engineer who did so given a royalty from the part sales?

Tim (could not resist)
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Colin
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Colin » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:09 pm

Wilfried, nice flying and thanks for sharing the story. Every mistake shared is a bunch of pilots learning a lesson.

My rear hatch was closed by my mechanic at Long Bach. Halfway back home to Santa Monica (a ten minute flight) the Door Open warning chimed. I glanced back and saw that the latch was in the open position, but that the safety was keeping it in the closed (but ajar) position. I just continued on and landed. On the ground I checked the operation of the latch and it all seemed good. Something strange must have happened when he closed it.
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby CFIDave » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:03 pm

Years ago I also had the rear door of our DA40 open in flight (for an unknown reason), caught only by the red safety latch. We were right above an airport so we landed and THEN closed the door, since I had previously read not to attempt to close the rear door in flight.

It never happened again.
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Rich
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Rich » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:20 pm

One thing I routinely do is make sure that safety catch is properly seated. In the past, the button one pushes from the outside would stick, holding the catch open and potentially rendering it inoperative. Less of a problem these days. I think enough wear has happened so it does not stick as often.
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Lou
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Re: How to loose your cabin door or I learned about flying from that...

Postby Lou » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:40 pm

Good story - thanks for sharing this. Reminds me of the saying "if all else fails, read the manual."

I have noticed that a stray strap or rope (like the top of a tent bag) can hook and open the latch easily. I usually caution my passengers about it. When I have baggage in the back I try to keep straps and ropes away.

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