Airline passengers were horrified when the emergency exit door of a flight came off as the aircraft was taxing in Abuja airport on Wednesday.

Dana Air denied that it was caused by a mechanical fault, and said the door could not fall off "without a conscious effort by a passenger to open it".

But one passenger told the BBC that everyone on board had denied tampering with the door.

Some of the passengers took to Twitter to speak about the experience.

Ola Brown wrote “Flew Dana. Exit door was unstable throughout the flight. As we touched down it fell off. Scary stuff.”

Dapo Sanwo, another passenger, replied: “If there is a class action lawsuit against Dana for gross negligence and endangering the lives of passengers. I want in, I also was on that flight : 25d : The Door Panel was loose indicative of lack of maintenance.”

Ms Brown said that the door rattled throughout the whole flight. "I just thought it was a screw loose, didn't think it would actually just fall off."

Mr Sanwo said: “It was really terrible. It was like traveling with a molue in the early 90s. Dana Air needs to carry out a comprehensive audit of her fleet and the maintenance status. If that hatch had opened mid air. We’d have lost cabin pressure, oxygen and surely have gone down.”

The airline is however insisting that the door fell off because a passenger attempted to open it.

“We wish to state categorically that this could never have happened without a conscious effort by a passenger to open it (exit door),” it said.

But Mr Sanwo retorted: “The plane was taxing towards its final destination. Seatbelts were fastened and no passenger was seated close enough to yank it. Several of us saw the handle dangle downwards and bust open in seconds. Damage control is ok but this is rude.

“If someone tampered with aircraft equipment. That’s terrorism. The passenger seated close to the sign would have been detained. Willful destruction of airline property. This is clearly what it is. A mechanical fault from a degraded plane.”

In its statement, Dana Air said: "The emergency exit door of our aircraft are plug-type backed by pressure, which ordinarily cannot fall off without tampering or a conscious effort to open by a crew member or passenger.

"When an aircraft is airborne, it is fully pressurised and there was no way the seat or door could have been shaking as insinuated."

The airline said that a thorough inspection of the aircraft was carried out by the airline’s engineers and a team from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority upon landing and no issue was reported.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us