Thursday, March 02, 2006

NTSB: Pilot Error Caused Flight Attendant To Be Sucked From Plane

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Federal investigators have concluded that pilot error led to an American Airlines flight attendant being sucked out of a plane during an emergency landing more than five years ago, killing him.

American Flight 1291 took off from Miami for Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with 121 passengers on Nov. 20, 2000. During the emergency descent back to Miami, there were pressurization problems, and the captain ordered the evacuation, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

When the plane was on the ground, flight attendant Jose Chiu, 34, of New York, struggled to unfasten the front cabin door, and it exploded open. He fell two stories to the tarmac.

NTSB investigators concluded that pilots had not used a manual control to depressurize the plane. As a result, excessive pressure built up in the cabin causing the door to suddenly open.

The accident investigation was completed three years ago, but the "probable cause" statement was not released until Wednesday because of a Web site glitch, said NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm.

"It was an extremely isolated and rare incident," said Tim Smith, spokesman for Forth Worth-based airline said Thursday. "We changed both our training and our procedures as a result of the situation to make sure people followed the procedure to avoid this happening."

Smith said the airline doesn't believe any other flight crew has failed to depressurize a plane since the accident.


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