A South Korean man in his thirties is facing 10 years in prison for opening the emergency exit door of a plane while it was still in the air, ABC News reported.
The Asiana Airlines flight from the resort island of Jeju, with 194 passengers and six crew members, was 800 feet above the ground preparing to land at the airport in Daegu on Friday when the passenger opened the emergency exit door.
According to witnesses who spoke with local media, some other passengers attempted to restrain the man. Video taken in the final moments of the flight shows extreme winds blowing on passengers.
While the plane safely landed, officials reported that 12 people were taken to a nearby hospital suffering from respiratory issues.
Due to air pressure, it is impossible to open an aircraft door while a plane is at cruising altitude (about 10,000 feet). However, as the plane descends and the pressure inside and outside the plane equalizes, it is possible to open a door, former Marine Col. Steve Ganyard told ABC News.
Ganyard added that since this incident occurred while the plane was about to land, the passengers would have been wearing their seatbelts, preventing anyone from getting sucked out of the plane. However, Ganyard added, the man who opened the door was certainly at risk of falling through it.
Transportaion officials in South Korea said the incident is being investigated to determine how the man got the door opened. While officials have not given a motive for the incident, they did confirm that the man did not appear to be drunk.
According to Reuters, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported this weekend that the man told police that he opened the door because he was “uncomfortable” and “wanted to get off the plane quickly.”
The man said he had been under stress after losing his job.