NTSB Identification: CHI95IA215.
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Scheduled 14 CFR operation of SIMMONS AIRLINES (D.B.A. AMERICAN EAGLE )
Incident occurred Sunday, July 09, 1995 in CHICAGO, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/21/1996
Aircraft: ATR 72-212, registration: N440AM
Injuries: 1 Minor,64 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.
THE MAIN PASSENGER CABIN DOOR OPENED SHORTLY AFTER TAKEOFF AT APPROXIMATELY 800 FEET AGL. THE AIRPLANE RETURNED TO THE AIRPORT, AND THE DOOR SEPARATED FROM THE AIRPLANE WHILE IT WAS ON FINAL APPROACH. ALL INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE DOOR WAS CLOSED AND LOCKED PRIOR TO TAKEOFF. THE LACK OF DAMAGE INDICATES THE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED/UNLATCHED WHEN IT OPENED. THE AIRPLANE HAD A NEWLY DESIGNED HANDRAIL/DOOR HANDLE INSTALLED WHICH REVERSED THE DIRECTION OF MOTION TO LOCK AND UNLOCK THE DOOR. FOURTEEN AIRPLANES IN THE FLEET INCORPORATED THIS DESIGN. THE NEWLY HIRED #1 FLIGHT ATTENDANT HAD OPERATED THIS HANDLE ON 16 OF HER 60 FLIGHTS SINCE BEING HIRED. SHE HAD BEEN ON DUTY ABOUT 14.5 HOURS ON THE DAY OF THE INCIDENT WITH ONLY 5 HOURS OF SLEEP THE PREVIOUS NIGHT DUE TO HER FLIGHT SCHEDULE. SHE STATED THERE WAS A VERY LOUD 'HUMMING NOISE' COMING FROM THE DOOR PRIOR TO IT OPENING.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident to be: the flight attendant's failure to follow procedures which resulted in her inadvertently opening the main cabin door in flight. Factors associated with the incident were: the flight attendant's fatigue due to lack of sleep and a long duty day, interference with habit regarding the direction of motion of the door locking handle, and inadequate design of the door locking handle by the manufacturer. Full narrative available
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