By Staff Writer | August 1, 2007
Ireland’s Air Accident Investigation Unit is investigating why an emergency egress door fell off a U.K. Royal Air Force Merlin at an air show in late June.
The unit’s preliminary report says a video shows the door’s locking handle was in the "jettison" position as the helicopter took off. Jurgen Whyte, chief inspector of air accidents for the unit, said the video shows someone in the aircraft touching the door handle while the helicopter was on static display at the show at Salthill in Galway. He said he does not believe the incident was malicious but was mischief. The door and its locking device were fully airworthy prior to takeoff, he said.
Whyte said although the report is preliminary, he does not expect the findings to change. The door, an emergency egress inside the sliding cargo door on the right side of the aircraft, is made of carbon fiber, Plexiglas, and a light alloy and weighs about 15 lb. None of the seven people on board were injured. Three people on the ground suffered minor injuries when they were hit by the door.
Whyte said the final report should be issued in two months. Close access to these military aircraft is not usually done, he said, and perhaps people should not be permitted to go inside the aircraft but look at it from the outside.