The passenger opened the emergency door on Asiana Airlines Airbus A321 when it was about 213 metres (700 ft) above the ground.
The passenger on an Asiana Airlines flight who opened an emergency exit door as the plane came in to land in South Korea told police he did it because he was feeling suffocated and wanted to disembark quickly, local media reported.
The man in his 30s opened the emergency door on Friday when the Airbus A321 was about 213 metres (700 feet) above the ground as it was landing at Daegu International Airport, causing panic onboard.
“During [police] questioning, the man told officials that he had been under a lot of stress after losing his job recently and that he opened the door because he wanted to get off quickly after feeling suffocated,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Saturday.
“He wanted out quickly,” a Daegu police detective told the French news agency AFP.
“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” the detective said.
Police plan to charge the man, who has not been identified, with violating the country’s aviation security law, Yonhap reported.
Nine passengers were sent to the hospital with breathing issues following the incident, which left many passengers terrified. All were dismissed from the hospital after about two hours, a fire department official said.
Video footage apparently taken by a person on board and posted on social media showed passengers’ hair being whipped about by air rushing into the cabin when the emergency door opened.
Jin Seong-hyun, a former Korean Air cabin safety official, said that as far as he knew, this case was unprecedented but that passengers have opened emergency exits without authorisation while planes have been on the ground.
A South Korean transport ministry official said yesterday that it was possible to open emergency exits at or near ground level because the pressures inside and outside the cabin were similar.