Diamond Star Loses Door In Flight

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When something went "whoomp" outside a home in Hartselle, Ala., last Saturday, it turned out to be the door off an airplane. This week, it was identified as the door from a Diamond Star based at nearby Rountree Airport; the plane landed safely after the incident. Jeff Owen, a spokesman for Diamond Aircraft, confirmed yesterday that the door had come off in flight, and it's not the first time. "It's happened several times," he told AVweb, and he added that the only way it can occur is if the door is not properly latched. "There are two monstrous pins that secure that door, and a system that will tell the pilot, with an audio warning and a light on the panel, if the door is unlatched," he said. He stressed that the system has one known flaw -- the pilot has to close the door and secure the latch for it to work. (Not that they're pointing fingers.) "It's extremely unlikely that the door would depart the airplane if it had been properly latched," he said. The door has been recovered, and Owen said he hopes to get it back to the Diamond factory soon for inspection. Owen also debunked some reports that the door is "designed" to come off in flight if it does come open. "There is certainly a lot of air load on that door, if it opens in flight," he said, but there is no built-in release mechanism. "We're not ducking this," he added. "We'll look at it very carefully and if there's a problem, we'll address it."