Trans-Atlantic Flight Turns Around 2 Hours in Due to Door Believed Left Open

A Delta flight was two hours into a flight when the crew got a sinking feeling.

You know when you are out at a restaurant, and you can’t remember if you actually closed your back door before going out?

The crew had the same feeling.  Except, it was the door on an airplane.  Oh, and they were in the air when this happened.

exit door

Well, the sinking feeling was caused by an indicator light.  This light alerted them that the cargo door was still open on their JFK-CDG flight.

Uh oh.

They dumped their fuel, turned around, and went back to JFK.

Here’s the kicker.  After all that trouble, it turns out this was a problem with the indicator light or latch, not an open door.

From the Daily News:

A company spokesman described it as a “possible issue with the aircraft’s cargo door latching mechanism†on the Boeing 777. The plane turned around and dumped fuel to lighten the landing weight.

Once the plane landed, technicians realized that the door had been closed all along.

Someone on Twitter described the situation this way:

Ultimately, they can’t control malfunctions with the indicator lights.  If they receive a signal that things aren’t safe, I fully support the decision to turn around–even if later appears to have been unnecessary.

What are your thoughts?

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. so scary!!! That would freak me out, my first flight on delta was so bad coming to US that I never flown since then

  2. Wow. Just Wow. This has to be the dumbest comment posted by you ever. Never mind the idiot who tweeted. Who cares what you think? It’s standard procedure to check a warning indicator like this and would have been extreme negligence by the crew if they had proceeded further. If the cargo door had closed improperly or only partially, it could have blown open and caused a very serious situation or even a crash over the Atlantic. Read up on TK 981 in 1970. Really, amazing comments by someone who should know better. Maybe they should have asked the pax on board if they wanted to continue?

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      My own comments are the ones at the bottom agreeing with the decision to turn around. The tweets were from the passenger.

  3. I was intrigued as cargo doors can be, and have been, the cause of catastrophic incidents at altitude.

    Flightaware tells a different story

    Data for DL404 shows it leveled off at 2900 feet less than 2 minutes after takeoff and never exceeded that altitude until it re- landed at JFK 55 minutes after take-off. ( am I looking at the same incident reported above at 2 hours outbound as this is the only recent JFK/CDG DL flight with unusual duration?)
    No negligence, great response, minimal risk at low altitude, just another day in a professional pilot’s life.
    But faulty switch sounds like Delta corporate spin and a latch issue is more likely given when climb out was aborted.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      It looks like the reporter only used the passenger account when coming up with the time (looking at the source). 2 minutes is a lot less newsworthy than 2 hours!

    • So, what’s more likely, that the indicator came on during take-off, as it would for a door that hadn’t been properly closed, or that a random failure of an indicator or sensor occurred moments after taking off and not at some random point during the flight?

      Yeah, I know, it’s far-fetched.

      Pilots did a great job returning that plane as they had to do.

  4. My thoughts?

    I’m almost miffed here. My wife flew JFK->SAN the DAY BEFORE on one of Delta’s 767s. They were gate delayed while the ground crew struggled to close and properly secure the cargo door. I’m not making this up. What the hell is going on over there?

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