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Open the Door... or Not?


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From what I've seen, it's a fairly standard procedure to "crack the door" just before doing an emergency off-field landing. The stated purpose is that the frame could get tweaked to the point were the doors wouldn't open, trapping the occupants in a potentially fiery situation. With the doors "pre-opened" a speedy exit is possible.

But how about the CT? Should the doors be opened? From what I've seen, the CT holds up great in crash situations, because the passenger "pod" stays intact. We've all seen the pictures where the pod is the only thing left, and all the passegers survived, possibly even walking away.

So.... won't opening the doors significantly weaken the pod? Do the doors become stuck after a hard landing? With our design, there is no "crack the doors", it's all or nothing.

Waddya think? I'm inclined to leave the doors latched.


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Couple of thoughts.


If I'm coming down in water, both doors come open (but I don't like the idea of being trapped and drowning - it takes very little water pressure to resist pushing out on the door - you may choose otherwise). You may think you will never come down in water, but Sullenberger probably didn't expect it, either.


If I'm coming down in a forest, both doors stay closed to try to keep the branches out (to the extent it can).


If I have smoke coming out under the cockpit or an engine fire, both doors are open unless I think it creates a draft that pulls the flames my way. If, god forbid, I'm iced up and can't see out, my door comes open. (I know you won't fly in known ice, but that funny rain shower in late autumn can turn into ice in some circumstances, and likewise if you are ever trapped on top and have to come down through a cloud you can ice up.)


If I were coming down in deep snow, I think I'd like at least one door open. Coming down at night I might be inclined to leave them closed unless I had a pretty good idea of the specific terrain.


I have no idea how much structural integrity the doors add to the airframe, and in which direction. I suspect that if coming down under the BRS they don't help much and maybe aren't needed much. If gliding in, maybe the lower part of the door provides some additional fore and aft strengthening - I don't know about those things.


Windows might be easy to kick out if one can get the freedom of movement (not hurt or pinned and conscious) but one may not want to count on that. Locked doors will not help others get into the plane, especially if they aren't familiar with the door opening procedure. Kicking the window in from the outside could injure me inside. I think if I were flying with a passenger who's strength I questioned, I'd consider that when it came to them being able to kick the window out.


FD is silent on this question with the SW. I have not looked at other POH to see what they may say.


I don't think the open doors will have any affect on flying the airplane. The idea that it does directly contradicts my personal experience in other aircraft.


As far as the doors keeping you in the airplane, they may help that, especially keeping limbs from flailing around and that is a point worthy of consideration. As far as keeping my body in, I put my main trust in another item on the emergency checklist "HARNESS" which means to me I pull it as tight as a possiblly can.


I think I'll add a line to my emergency checklist which simply says "DOORS" and to me will mean I should make a decision based on the circumstances.  I think it is a decision one should consciously make if one has the opportunity.  I think  it is not an automatic "open" or "close" decision to me.  It may well be to others.  My guess is it's up to each of us.

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you want to know about the integrity of the safety cell in a crash and whether the doors will open or not.this photo is of

a locally based CT.the pilot was unfortunate in being caught out by the weather and making a precautionary landing in a

short field unknown to the pilot.apparently due to workload factors and a slightly too high a landing speed

the CT landed and immediately took off again then came down on the nose wheel and promptly ground looped.the pilot

walked away without a scratch.in regards to the safety cell the P2 side window and the front screen were damaged.but the pilot

reported that exiting the aircraft presented no problems apart from releasing the harness because of being upside down.the CT

was repaired and is still flying today to my knowledge.


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Colin, this picture adds to my confidence in the structural integrity of the CT. I've seen similar pictures of other CT crashes and the cockpits have all appeared to have come thru without breaking up or even showing much distortion. The only thing about these crashes is the tendency of the shoulder harness to loosen and the spar box is very close to one's head. This worries me should I end up relying on the harness in a crash. You indicate that this CT was repaired and put back in the air. It would be interesting to find out how much work was required to do this. Must be close to the cost of replacement.

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  • 5 months later...

Cirrus calls for doors closed and latched throughout a CAPS event.


1) As mentioned, it lends more integrity to the fuselage, and,


2) It may prevent a branch or something similar intruding and injuring the an occupant.


The Cirrus has escape hammer velcro'd in the armrest. Does CT provide one?

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