Finnair A320 at Helsinki on Jan 13th 2020, flight attendant fell off aircraft

Last Update: October 28, 2020 / 10:27:48 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 13, 2020

Classification
Accident

Airline
Finnair

Flight number
AY-450

Departure
Oulu, Finland

Aircraft Registration
OH-LXD

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

A Finnair Airbus A320-200, registration OH-LXD performing flight AY-450 from Oulu to Helsinki (Finland), had completed an uneventful flight with a safe landing, had taxied to the gate, the passengers had disembarked. A flight attendant opened one of the aft doors and fell off the aircraft about 3.5 meters down onto the tarmac. Emergency services took the flight attendant to a hospital.

The airline confirmed the flight attendant fell off the aircraft while opening an aft door, a very unusual and rare event.

Finland's AIB reported an investigation has been opened. The flight attendant received serious injuries (bone fractures), the injuries are not life threatening. Why the flight attendant fell off the aircraft is still under investigation.

The occurrence aircraft departed for its next flight about one hour after landing.

On Jan 15th 2020 The Aviation Herald received information that stairs had been attached to the aft door when the flight attendant first opened the door to signal the driver of the passenger bus, that everybody had disembarked and the bus should depart. The flight attendant then closed the door. For some reason the bus did not depart however. As result the stairs could not be driven away from the aircraft, too, and stopped about 1.5 meters from the aircraft. The flight attendant was queried why the bus hadn't departed yet, checked and saw the stairs in front of the cabin door (without realizing there was already a gap of about 1.5 meters), opened the door a second time and fell down onto the tarmac onto her right side. She received a couple of broken ribs, a fractured collarbone and some wounds on her head requiring a couple of stitches. She can move arms and legs and is on the way to recovery.

On Jan 16th 2020 the AIBF reported: "After the flight, the aircraft was parked in the outer row of the apron. The passengers had safely exited the aircraft using the boarding steps and entered the bus. The staircase vehicle had backed up slightly away from the aircraft but was still very close to it. The rear door was closed after the passengers had exited and was soon reopened after closing. The crew member opening the door fell through the gap between the boarding steps and the aircraft to the ground and was injured."

On Oct 28th 2020 the Finland's Onnettomuustutkintakeskus (AIBF) released their final report in Finnish and an English summary concluding the probable causes of the accident were:

1. The stairs did not back out immediately after the passengers had exited the aircraft through the aft door. The purser asked by announcing if anyone had shown the OK sign to the driver of the stairs. Conclusion: The OK sign was not communicated to other cabin crew members. As result the cabin crew's situational awareness was not adequate.

2. Cabin Crew Member (CCM) 2, being the oldest one in the aft section of the cabin, realized that she was responsible for the OK sign. Conclusion: The Cabin Crew Operations Manual (CCOM) does not clearly specify the responsibilities of the oldest crew member in the aft cabin. The duties and responsibilities are defined in various sources such as Finnair's manuals and applications. This may complicate an unambiguous overall understanding.

3. CCM2 opened the already closed door. Conclusion: The CCOM does not specify how to act when the door is reopened after the passengers left.

4. CCM2 stepped onto the top of the stairs and tried to return into the aircraft. At the same time the stair car reversed away from the aircraft causing CCM2 to fall onto the apron. Conclusion: The training of flying personnel does not go through the safety devices of the stairs. Seeing a safety strap pulled across the stairs serves as a sign that one should not enter the stairs. Opening the safety strap prevents the car from moving. In addition, stairs have an emergency stop button at the top platform which also prevents the stairs from moving.

5. The purser reported the accident to the cockpit and asked for assistance. The flight crew's mobile phones were still closed, hence the emergency call was made to ground control via radio. At the ground control the person receiving the call informed a collegue who then called emergency services. Conclusion: Alerting assistance has been instructed to crew while the aircraft is in the air or moving on its own on the ground. Otherwise cabin crew at home are instructed to call emergency services directly when an accident occurs with a crew member leaves or boards the aircraft. There is no corresponding instruction to flight crew.

6. Ground control informed emergency services of an "unclear illness attack". The airport's civil protection unit was the first to arrive at the aircraft, an ambulance arrived later. Conclusion: a detailed and direct flow of information from the emergency site to emergency services is essential. The more accurate information emergency services receive the more likely it is emergency respond with the right level of urgency.

The AIBF summarized in English:

After returning from a flight, Finnair’s Airbus A320 aircraft had been parked on the apron of the Helsinki Airport to allow the passengers to exit on 13 January 2020. The passengers exited the aircraft via stairs to a bus, and the cabin crew member (CCM4) responsible for the left rear door of the aircraft agreed with the driver of the staircase vehicle that the stairs would be driven away. Because another aircraft was taxiing nearby, the bus could not depart for the terminal immediately, and therefore the staircase vehicle at the rear door could not move either. The senior cabin crew member (SCC) noticed that the bus was not moving and made an announcement to the crew, asking if anyone had given the bus driver the OK sign to indicate that all passengers had exited the aircraft and that the bus could depart for the terminal. The cabin crew member responsible for the rear of the aircraft (CCM2) realised that she had forgotten to give the OK sign and hurried to the left rear door of the aircraft, opening it. Because there was no direct visual contact to the bus driver from the door and the staircase vehicle was still in place, the crew member stepped on the top platform of the staircase vehicle to give the sign. While the crew member was stepping back into the aircraft, the staircase vehicle started to move away from the aircraft. As a result, the crew member overbalanced and fell a distance of approx. 3.5 m from the door to the apron, suffering severe injuries.

In Finnair’s handbooks and instructions, the duties and areas of responsibility of the cabin crew have been defined in several places. CCM2, who was injured in the accident, believed that she was responsible for giving the OK sign, even though CCM4 had already given the sign to the staircase vehicle driver. In the accident, only CCM4 was aware that the OK sign had been given, meaning that the situational awareness of the crew was not at the same level at the time of the accident.

Finnair’s cabin crew have been instructed to call for help in Finland by calling the emergency number 112. As for the flight crew, they have been instructed to contact air traffic control with the aircraft radios. In the accident, SCC notified the cockpit about the fall, from which the captain reported the incident to Finnair’s Hub Control Centre (HCC), which then called 112.

Aviation operators have a statutory duty to draw up an occurrence report on occurrences, incidents and accidents, which is also sent to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. The safety management organisations of aviation operators draw up risk assessments on occurrences and take measures to improve safety, if necessary. The Occurrence Reporting Regulation obliges every organisation and actor involved in the accident to draw up an occurrence report; however, the Regulation does not require the organisations to share the occurrence reports with each other. From 2015 to 2020, approximately 50 occurrences related to the operation of an aircraft door, the staircase vehicle or the passenger bridge have taken place in Finland. However, the safety risks mentioned in these occurrence reports have not resulted in notable monitoring or other measures by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. Neither has Finnair initiated any significant measures with regard to the occurrences concerning them related to the issue.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Jan 13, 2020

Classification
Accident

Airline
Finnair

Flight number
AY-450

Departure
Oulu, Finland

Aircraft Registration
OH-LXD

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320

ICAO Type Designator
A320

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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