05 June 2016

More of the Door Story

Passengers on a Barrier Air plane were terrified when they saw its door come ajar mid-flight - but the aircraft had even bigger problems they did not know about. The pilot says the plane with six passengers onboard experienced "equipment failure" as it came in to land at Auckland Airport. The incident occurred on the 34-year-old Piper Chieftain aircraft last Tuesday, on a flight from Kaitaia to Auckland with a scheduled stop in Whangarei. Passengers described how the plane door appeared to come open during the flight, and said the plane circled about three times before landing at Auckland. James Snowden said once the plane landed, the pilot could be seen on his haunches by the wing of the plane, breathing deeply. "He was worried. I thought it was because of the door." Pilot Ryan Bergman wrote on the public Kiwi Pilots Facebook page that the issue with the door was not the reason the plane could not land, but another "defect" occurred. In another post, Bergman wrote he had "equipment failure on short finals in the Chieftain and commenced the missed approach". When approached for comment, Bergman said he was not at liberty to talk about the incidents, and directed further questions to Barrier Air and the Civil Aviation Authority. Snowden said he was shocked to hear of the so-called "equipment failure", as passengers were not told about it at the time, and had not heard from the airline since. "That's even worse. That's even more scary." A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority said an incident involving the Piper Chieftain had been reported but was unable to provide specific details. The exact same plane, Embraer EMB-820C Chieftain ZK-RDT, was involved in a similar door-opening incident in 2001, when it was operated by Origin Pacific. Origin flight 457 was flying from New Plymouth to Auckland when the cabin door opened in flight, according to a Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report. Passengers had to hold the door shut for about 10 minutes as the pilot landed the plane. TAIC found the 2001 incident resulted from wear and distortion of door latch components, which had not been detected. Pilots and engineers needed to be more aware of mechanical deterioration of items such as the door latch mechanism, TAIC said at the time. Barrier Air CEO Michael Foster said the airline has been operating under new management since August. All aircraft were airworthy at the time of the changeover, and maintenance events dating back 15 years or more were not considered relevant, and were unknown to the new management. Barrier Air was undergoing a fleet replacement, Foster said. "The BN2A Britten-Norman Islanders and the Piper Chieftain aircraft, the mainstay of yesteryear and stalwart faithful servants for so many past years, are fast approaching their 'use-by' date and we plan to put them out to pasture as soon as we can re-educate our clients to the virtues of using modern turbine engines." The Piper Chieftain was manufactured in Brazil in 1982, and imported into New Zealand in 1994. Aviation commentator Irene King said the door issue was a well-known problem with this type of aircraft. However, it was rare for the door to come fully open, and in this case it was more likely that the pressure seal had broken, causing it to come slightly ajar - which would be enough to give passengers a fright, she said. "You've got a multiple locking mechanism on it. If the pilot doesn't lock it properly, then the first mechanism will come open and that lets the air pressure in. "It's no big deal. These aircraft can fly quite satisfactorily with one pressured seal." King said Piper Chieftain were "tough, rugged, nuggety aircraft with few moving parts". "Very few things go wrong with them, really. But it's old equipment - you do have to be a bit careful with it."

Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/travel-troubles/80638583/barrier-air-plane-experienced-equipment-failure-after-door-came-ajar-midair


  1. Who does Mr Foster refer to in the context of clients:

    "fast approaching their 'use-by' date and we plan to put them out to pasture as soon as we can re-educate our clients to the virtues of using modern turbine engines"

  2. Wow...even under "new management" this airline is still dodgy. More than ever do they need to replace the Chieftain and older planes and settle on one type for regular use...Since they already have success in flying one, the Grand Caravan.
    Replace the hotch potch liveries with one theme...Nothing is more off putting than stickers over someone elses old colours. This airline has great ideas and so much potential to anchor the Waikato - Kaitaia as it's own turf.

    1. Your comments are a little basic. Why does a door cracked open make it dodgy? GBA has had as many incidents as most other airlines, it's just they seem to end up with the media coverage more than another.

      I have flown in a turboprop recently in NZ where the door was screaming in flight. On landing the pilot told us that the door wasn't shut completely due to a bag tag in the seal and explained why we were not unsafe.

      I know of several incidents off hand that 3rd level operators have had (including a pax hospitalized with back injuries) that have never been made public.

      My point is really is that things like this happen, and should be avoided at all cost, but it's all in how its handled particularly post event. Thats the issue with Barrier, as it APPEARS nothing was done on arrival or post event.

      Changing the livery of an aeroplane does nothing to improve safety performance.

      As for the 208 yes it is the future, but there are still hurdles in the way before a pure SEIFR fleet is a reality (not just the CAA).

    2. Air2there does SEIR with their 208B.. Why not GBA ?

    3. hmmmm,, good old doggy GBA

    4. "Changing the livery of an aeroplane does nothing to improve safety performance. "

      In the uneducated eyes of Jill and Joe Public it does. You know, the paying passengers you are trying to entice onto your aeroplanes ?

      How can you possibly expect everyone to think an aeroplane is safe if it looks like a bucket of bolts. My wife refuses to fly on GBA since we went to Great Barrier Island on ZKRDT a couple of summers ago. Even though I thought it was a wonderful flight

    5. You miss the point.

      Your point refers to commercial interests of whether a passenger will buy a ticket or a not. The color of the livery/s has nothing to do with safety.

      The color of an aeroplane has nothing to do with safety, only public perception of safety.

    6. Sir, I think you had missed the point.

      I think many of us who frequent this blog possess enough intelligence to understand that paint is not structural so you need not waste your time educating us on this rather obvious fact.

      My point IS about the perception of safety and that of the commercial success of the airline. As is I'm sure the original comment to which we are both replying.

      One can only surmise that you are in fact the "new management" of which the original commenter mentions. Perhaps instead of staunchly defending your position behind what are actually rather constructive comments you could put the effort into improving the public perception of this little airline which as the original commenter mentions has so much potential.

      You can argue the point (what ever that is) until the cows come home but the fact remains that GBA is still perceived to be a "dodgy" airline by many.
      I know this first hand as my family are "ex" customers of GBA and I personally know two other families who have access to the same bach as us don't use the GBA either for similar reasons.
      In our case it was almost entirely based on the paint job of our aircraft (ZKRDT) of which my wife was horrified at it's state. It instilled zero confidence in an already nervous flyer.
      I know that the airline and the aircraft are safe. I have a background in aircraft engineering and know that there are standards to be met. If the standards are not met then the aircraft will not be flying. But you tell my wife that. She, like many I suggest analyze subjects on what is presented to them. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.
      Same thing here, if your aeroplane or airline turns up and looks like a shambles... You get the picture.

      I wish GBA success in their future development.


  3. I believe sounds air has a pure seifr fleet... had done for many years.
    Or is this in reference to ba achieving a pure seifr fleet?

    1. Ah yes achieving it for GBA

  4. I guess that all aviation-related people here know that a loose door in a non-pressurized aircraft is not a biggie.
    Some years ago we took off from Matamata in a Cherokee and, on climb-out, found the door had not been latched properly.
    We had a 20-second discussion and decided to keep going, back to Auckland.
    I was in the right-hand seat, and sure it was a bit chilly and rather more noise than usual but thats about it really.
    The hinges are at the front of the door and the slipstream holds the door back in place.
    It's not going to kill you.

    1. But once again...to the everyday person...The door cracking open mid flight could be downright terrifying. And this particular Chieftain has been in this situation before. It should be playground equipment.

    2. It could well be playground equipment in the future