757 Cargo Door Opens In Flight


German authorities are investigating the big surprise a DHL 757-200 crew got early Saturday when the huge cargo door opened in flight. The aircraft took off from Leipzig about 5:30 a.m. headed for Frankfurt. As it passed through 5,300 feet the door opened and parts of the frame tumbled to the ground around a power plant about six miles from the airport. The incident was first reported by the Aviation Herald.

The crew flew away from the airport for about 15 minutes, perhaps to dump fuel, and returned to Leipzig. They stopped on the runway and the aircraft was towed to a ramp about 40 minutes later. There were no injuries on the aircraft or on the ground and none of the cargo went overboard. The aircraft was, however, seriously damaged. Photos from the scene show a dark fluid stain on the aircraft’s fuselage and the sill of the door looks damaged.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • Ha!
      If they had an FAA spokesman interviewed, it would probably be as funny as that one was.
      (It’ll go right over a lot of heads.)

  1. A not-supposed-to-ever-happen event.

    Multiple locks though common drive shaft I presume, with power cutoff and physical safety mechanism?

    “Six-in” was standard call of loadmaster returning to cockpit of the Hercules airfreighters I flew on, as the C-130 did not fly well with cargo door open.

    • DC-8 had four cargo door open in-flight incidents as far as I know. All after takeoff, all returned safely. We had to sign a “door closed and pins checked” box on the log sheet before taxi.

    • Crew probably wanted to check condition of airplane – it’s response to controls, in case of tail damage from departing pieces.