What is remarkable about a story which News.com has been running since yesterday about a door explosion in an Emirates A380 flight between Bangkok and Hong Kong is not that it is wrong.

Almost everything sourced to the Daily Mail in the UK is wrong, except possibly for the date which appears on the pages of the print editions.

No. The astonishing bit is that the story was so obviously wrong that even the tea lady would have raised doubts about its veracity, had the bean counters combined her role with that of sub-editing, which is probably an up coming part of its business survival plan.

The story currently appears in its ‘most wrong’ form on the Courier-Mail site for Australian readers, however just in case frantic corrections occur later today, or tomorrow, or whenever the Courier-Mail can afford to behave like a newspaper, it is also reproduced in full below.

A TOURIST has told of his flight of terror when he claims an emergency exit on a superjumbo blew open at 27,000ft.

Briton David Reid and his son Lewis feared a bomb had gone off after hearing a “massive explosion” two hours into their flight on the brand new $376 million Emirates Airbus A380.

Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged after the door in business class came nearly four centimetres ajar, leaving a gaping hole, Mr Reid told the Daily Mail.

As passengers wept in terror, he said, a petrified stewardess ran down the aisle and screamed “the door’s going to go” before cowering behind her seat.

Astonishingly, according to Mr Reid, instead of making an emergency landing, the crew decided to stuff blankets and pillows stuck together with gaffer tape into the hole and continue the flight despite a horrendous droning noise and sub-zero temperatures, as photographed by Mr Reid and his son.

The drama happened on Monday as the two Britons flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong as part of what was planned as a “trip of a lifetime” after Mr Reid had spent months battling leukaemia.

“We were about two hours in when suddenly there was a huge blast,” he said.

“It was a real shock, so loud that I thought a bomb might have gone off. Air was gushing into the cabin like a gale. The stewardess jumped up and stared at the door. Her face was drained white. She ran up the aisle, grabbed the intercom and started screaming, ‘The door’s going to go, the door’s going to go!’ Then she hid under her chair.

Emirates A380

Emirates A380 emergency exit door partially opened after explosion. Source: Emirates

“Other passengers were crying and saying ‘We’re going to go down, we’re going to go down.’ It was complete panic. The emergency door was ajar and leaving a gaping hole. You could see straight out into the atmosphere, 27,000ft up.”

Mr Reid, who has a private pilot’s licence, said that after several moments of confusion, the cabin crew started grabbing blankets and pillows which they stuck together with duct tape to fill the gap.

“This is a state-of-the-art plane but they were using the most crude method you could imagine to try and plug the hole,” he said.

“The conditions were terrible for the rest of the flight. The door continued to make a horrendously loud droning sound which made it impossible to speak to each other. Worst of all, it was absolutely freezing.

“It was an extremely very nerve-wracking experience for everybody.”

He said cabin crew closed the curtain between business class to stop those in the economy cabin below discovering what was happening.

Mr Reid claims he suffered a chest infection following the ordeal and the pair had to cut short their $6,800 trip. His 18-year-old son reported the incident to the Department of Transport’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch who have passed it on to air investigators at the United Arab Emirates General Authority for Civil Aviation.

“We can confirm there was a whistling noise emanating from one of the doors on the A380 upper deck on flight EK384 between Bangkok and Hong Kong on Monday, February 11. At no point was the safety of the flight in jeopardy,” an Emirates spokesman said:

An Airbus spokesman said: “It is not possible for a cabin door to open on an A380 or on any aircraft whilst in flight, as doors open inwards and have locking mechanisms.”

So, a door on the flight developed a leaking seal.  This does happen from time to time on aircraft of any type.  If you fly regularly you will notice the odd whistling sound coming from around the doors which is the sound made by the pressurized air inside the cabin leaking into the stratosphere outside. These seals often require renewal. When they whistle at you  it’s a giveaway.

However when they whistle, in any jet airliner, the internal pressurization of the airliner continues to push tight the flanges which seat the closed door flush with the side of the cabin against its structure like a plug, meaning the door cannot be opened outwards into the slipstream. You can have a leaky door, but you can’t have a door that just opens out, as you may have observed when cabin doors are opened or closed at the terminal.

They have to be pushed or pulled inwards and turned so that the door seats itself like a plug against the enclosing structure of the fuselage.

The next point is that contrary to what the experienced, and possibly hysterical pilot passenger told the gullible Daily Mail reporter, air doesn’t rush into the pressurized cabin of an airliner from outside, it rushes out, hence the noise from the leaking seal.

The temperature inside the jet didn’t fall below freezing because nothing is coming in. Nor did the pressure inside the jet, which is actively maintained by a very sophisticated cabin amenity system in all jets fall by any significant amount, because if it had the oxygen masks would have popped out of their stowed positions overhead.

The reference to erecting a barrier so that those in economy class below couldn’t see what was going on, presumably to save them from dying in terror, is puzzling, since economy class can’t see anything in business class in the Emirates A380 because they are on different floors of the big Airbus.

The facts, and factual errors, in this story and another about a terror plunge in a trans Atlantic 757 flight are dealt with by the Aviation Herald.

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