Did You Know? Aircraft Door Plugs

Airplane Door Plug

Image by National Transportation and Safety Board via https://www.ntsb.gov

Did you know? A door plug is a piece of metal shaped like a door used to fill the space that an aircraft door would otherwise take.

There has been a lot of media attention about “door plugs” since a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing Max 9 aircraft on January 5, 2024.  The Boeing 737 Max 9 was a newly-delivered aircraft.

Do you know what a door plug is and how common they are on airliners?  A door plug is simply a piece of metal shaped like a door that is used to fill the space that an actual aircraft door would otherwise take.  During assembly, more exits are cut out of the airframe than will be needed by the airline customer.  The number of exits that require doors depends on the aircraft’s seating configuration and the maximum number of passengers on board.

Once the final seating configuration is defined, and the number of required exits with doors is established, the airline will want the manufacturer to plug all surplus exits.  Exits with fully operable doors are far more expensive to the airline than a sealed exit.  Once properly closed, the aircraft’s structural integrity is sound, and the aircraft can be pressurized.  The maintenance to seal an entry point is minimal.  Plugging surplus exits is a cost-saving for the airline and is a very common practice.

What is not common is a door plug that pops out during flight.  Fortunately for passengers of Flight 1282, the door plug failed early in the flight at around 16,000 feet.  An explosive depressurization and catastrophic event would likely have occurred if the door plug blew out at a typical cruising altitude between 30,000 and 40,000 feet.  The other good fortune for all aboard was that the door plug did not damage the aircraft in a way that it could not be safely flown to an emergency landing.  The worst news about the Flight 1282 door plug is how an improperly installed door plug could escape detection during the airframe inspection at the manufacturing facility.


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If you or a family member suffered a serious in-flight injury, there are probably a myriad of questions you want answered. Who is responsible for covering your medical expenses? What happens if you need to take time off work to recuperate from your in-flight injury?

The airplane accident injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger are here to help and can offer guidance on what steps you should take following an in-flight injury. Our team of seasoned personal injury attorneys understands the nuances of federal regulations and the legal prerequisites necessary for a viable in-flight personal injury claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.