Re: B737 Overwing Exits

From: (JR. Stone)
Organization: University of Bristol, England
Date:         30 Jul 95 13:02:11 
References:   1
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DadE0788 ( wrote:
: Instructions for operating the overwing exit doors on older 737's require
: that the door panel be opened and placed in the passenger row in front of
: you.  Other planes have the operator ditch the door panel out the opening.

: With planes flying so full, how could they possibly be serious about
: putting it in a row of seats.  (specifically, this comes from
: Continental's 737's)

As indeed 55 people found at the cost of their lives in the 1985 fire
on a British Airways 737 at Manchester (UK). The report of the official
investigation noted that there had been serious problems opening the
overwing exit and that this was a contributory factor in the large
loss of life.
The narrow seat pitch made it difficult to stand & open the window,
so the passenger in the 10F window seat tried to do it still seated.
All were taken by surprise when the 48lb window assembly fell inward
trapping her by the legs. A male passenger eventually managed to lift
it into another row. The report says that although it *might* be possible
to envisage a scenario in which resealing the fuselage may be necessary
(but doesn't clarify what that scenario may be) it is much better to
throw the whole window assembly out of the aircraft.

So you might like to ask Continental (and all the rest) why, 10 years
later, they don't make it clear enough that:
a) the window will suddenly fall inwards when opened
b) it's heavy, and
c) once open, it should be pushed out through the hole it came from.

NB - I've not flown in a 737 for a couple of years, so perhaps some
airlines now do have clearer instructions. Also, perhaps the window
design means that it won't fit back through the hole, or would be likely
to jam?

  John Stone, Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TR, UK
  Tel: +44 117 9288262                                 FAX: +44 117 9303889
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