Pilot's tip of the week

Open Door In Flight

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Subscriber question:

"What should you do if your door pops open in flight?" — Francis S.

Wally:

“A cabin door popping open just after takeoff can be a very distracting event and has been the cause of several accidents.

The natural pilot action is to attempt to get the door closed as soon as possible, and this is exactly the wrong thing to do. The most important thing is to maintain aircraft control. In my experience, it is almost impossible to get an open door closed in flight, so don’t get distracted trying.

In most airplanes, the door will only open a few inches as there is a lot of airflow preventing it from opening too far. There may be some slight loss of performance but aircraft control should not be a problem. If your POH has a procedure, follow it. In general, avoid high speeds, and return and land using normal procedures.

In the worst case scenario, it is possible (but not probable) that the door could come off and hit something on the tail. This is a very low probability, but that could cause controllability problems. So there is good reason to maintain aircraft control and keep the speed from becoming excessive.

So if this happens to you, give up on the idea of getting the door closed. Return and land, and close the door on the ground.”

Have you ever had a door pop open in flight?

tip(NEW) IFR Mastery scenario #149 “Capital City Confusion” is now available. Loss of control on an approach is a terrifying thought—and you just recovered in a valley with limited visibility and no airport in sight. Is it better to climb to safety with a known issue or scud run a few hundred feet above the ground to find an airport and some terra firma? Watch the Intro video.

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