Saturday 16 February 2013

'At no time did one of the doors open'

Today, the Mail's website has reported:

The article by Tom Kelly begins:

A British tourist told yesterday of his flight of terror when he claims an emergency exit on a super jumbo blew open at 27,000ft.

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 £250million Emirates Airbus A380.

Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged after the door in business class came an inch and a half ajar, leaving a gaping hole, said Mr Reid.

The comments under the story are extremely revealing as the vast majority debunk claims made in the article.

For example, in the image shown above, the Mail claims that the:

Door indicator shows green for open instead of red for closed.

But this is wrong for two reasons. A green light on a door indicator would indicate the door is closed - after all, an open door would be the dangerous thing, and danger is usually highlighted with red.

Secondly, it's not a door indicator light anyway. It's an 'Attendant Indication Panel'. As someone called Flyboy88, who says he works on these aircraft, says in the comments:

that light actually means there is a passenger call bell or a phone call to that doors inter phone.

Another comment, from someone claiming to be a pilot, says:

Ok speaking as an A380 pilot, I have to say this article is almost laughable in almost every sense.

1) The picture showing the "door indicator" is actually the passenger call indicator indicating that someone was obviously so bothered by this that they wanted a Gin and Tonic.

2) If a door had "blown" as the article had suggested, do you think with an approximate pressure differential between inside and outside of 8.5 PSI that a blanket would stop everyone from being sucked out?

3) I would love to know how you can hide under an A380 jumpseat, there is barely enough room to keep a lifejacket there.

4) There is no curtain between Economy and Business class, they are separated by....... a floor. This was nothing more than a leaky seal in a door and the blankets were for passenger comfort on a short (2.5 hour flight).

I think Mr Reid needs a groundschool refresher of basic physics and leaves the operating of these multi-million pound aircraft to the professionals.

- Bus Driver, Reading, United Kingdom, 16/2/2013 6:01

The allegations in the article are from someone who:

claims he suffered a chest infection following the ordeal

The Mail seems to have believed his version of events, without questioning them or his possible motives. He also claims:

Freezing air blasted in and the cabin pressure plunged

But, as many of the comments point out, it would be very odd if air 'blasted in' at 27,000ft. And if the cabin pressure 'plunged' the oxygen masks would have deployed, yet this is not mentioned anywhere in the article.

It seems odd, too, that none of the other passengers - who were apparently 'weeping in panic' - seems to have come forward to support the claims made in this Mail article.

There are two quotes at the end of the article which say:

An Emirates spokesman said: ‘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 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.

By 2:30pm, there were over 600 comments on the article, and most of them were very critical of the Mail and its fact-checking. But they didn't correct or edit it in response - instead, they gave it even more prominence on their homepage and made it top story:

It seems accuracy has lost out to numbers of visitors as the most important thing about this story as far as MailOnline is concerned.

At 3:07pm, the Mail updated the story, adding a further quote from an Emirates airline spokesman:

'At no time during the flight did one of the upper deck doors open. There was also no loss in cabin pressurisation at any time during the flight.

'The noise from the door was caused by a small dimensional difference between the inflated door seal and the door lower frame striker plate, when the door is in the closed position. This is currently under investigation in conjunction with Airbus. Emirates have now fixed the problem.

'The blankets were placed around the door to abate the whistling sound emanating from the door, not to prevent the door from opening.

'There was no point during the incident where the safety of the flight was in jeopardy.

'In addition, the green light next to the door does not represent that the door is open. It is an Attendant Indication Panel and is used for communication information for the Cabin Crew.'

Despite this latest update, the rest of the article - including the photos claiming the green light shows the door is 'open' - remains uncorrected.

(Hat-tip to Martin)


  1. The Daily Fail strikes again

  2. Daily Mail commenters actually making sense? Whoa.

  3. The Daily Mail, which I last read a number of decades ago, is obviously worse than the average as a reporter of facts. But the truth is this story is an extreme example of a near universal problem with newspapers and other media.

    If you have, from your work or education, a proper appreciation of an event such as for this case and the report is obviously informed only by ignorance it absolutely demolishes any confidence you can have in the gatherer (the newspaper for example) of reports.

    What is perhaps even more of a concern is that the intelligent people who have commented correctly may be wasting so much of their time actually reading the Daily Mail.

    Robin Turner, Derby

    1. Have you ever been directly involved with an incident that later got reported? Everyone I know who has, including me, has been struck by how remarkably wrong reporters get things, even important and obvious details.

      I don't think it's any surprise that journalists have lost any reputation they had for probity and newspapers are dying: why should people pay to be told things if the things aren't even going to be accurate?

    2. I had the same experience. Our company had a fire large enough to be reported in the local papers. Not one managed to get all of the following facts right: Company Name, MD's name and number of fire engines on the scene. I'd have thought all the facts fairly important when reporting a a fire at a business.

  4. I was on an Emirates A380 flight from Dubai to Bangkok on December 28th 2012 when almost exactly the same thing happened. A big bang from the door followed by a very loud noise from it for the rest of the flight. The crew also covered it up with blankets. It was a very frightening experience, like nothing I had ever known on a plane before. An air stewardess told me it was an ongoing problem that they had with the door and they were worried it was getting worse. I think it was brave of David Reid talk to the press about this and, though I wouldn't normally say this, good of the Daily Mail to run the story. It's clear from reading it that Emirates initially tried to downplay the incident and only issued a new statement admitting there was a problem that it was investigating with Airbus after the story was posted. If you look at the side box, it's also clear that the Mail had spoken with Rob Hunter from the British Air Pilots Association who says that while extremely rare, what is described is possible. (plane crashes are of course very rare but do sometimes happen) I'm very disappointed by Tabloid Watch on this one. It hasn't spoken to the witness or to an independent expert but has instead just slagged them off to take the side of an airline that has a huge financial interest in trying to pretend that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with its planes. If you had been on the flight at 27,000 ft when there's a huge bang from the door and then a huge droning noise, you would want pressure put on the airline to reveal what the problem is.

    1. Did the door on your flight or on the one in the article "blow open midflight" and "freezing air blasted in causing the cabin pressure plunged"? Or is this just a scare story designed to get hits on the website with a tiny link to the truth at best?

      I dispute that Emirates tried to down play the incident. If anything the Daily Mail have overplayed the incident. At no time was there a risk of the door opening or the plane being in any danger.

    2. So Tabloid Watch should just ignore the scientific impossibilities in the Mails article (cold air blasting IN), and ignore the outright lie claiming the green light by the door meant the door was unlocked when in fact it was an Attendant Information Panel?

      Nothing in the story makes sense and whilst it may be that *something* happened to the door seal to create noise, there was nothing unsafe with door locking mechanism and the flight was in no "danger at 27,000 ft"....

  5. I think my favourite bit is the caption on a picture of a completely unfussed-looking guy peering into his bag:

    "Ordeal: A relieved passenger checks his hand baggage on arrival in Hong Kong"

  6. I would be fairly concerned, to put it mildly, if I were on a plane where the door was "whistling" and the staff thought it necessary to plug it up with blankets to mask the sound.

    Bear in mind this startling admission is coming direct from an airline, and airline's are notorious for spin.

    So contrary to the running theme here, it sounds to me like yes there is a story, but the Mail made some errors in reporting and were sloppy in research.

  7. Has Tabloid Watch ceased to function? No updates since mid-February...

    1. Not ceased to function, yet, just having a bit of a break (after four years of almost non-stop blogging!).

    2. That's good to hear. Was worried that you might have taken ill or something.

  8. This is a very long break as it's almost a year to the day later and still no updates. I for one am 'outraged'!!! ;)
    I need my fix of tabloid lie debunking


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