|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : mem|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 2700|
msl bound upper : 3000
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : mem|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, Low Wing, 1 Eng, Retractable Gear|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Route In Use||enroute : on vectors|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : instrument
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 12|
flight time total : 1300
flight time type : 1100
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : departure|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : less severe|
altitude deviation : excursion from assigned altitude
non adherence : clearance
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||controller : issued new clearance|
flight crew : overcame equipment problem
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
After departure from mem international in small aircraft aircraft, I leveled at 3000 ft MSL as cleared by ATC. Shortly after, the front cockpit cabin door popped open. At this time I was in and out of the bottom of a ragged overcast. Since the noise level was too high to maintain adequate communication with ATC and I did not want to get into IMC while trying to secure the door, I elected -- while still VMC -- to descend approximately 300 ft to stay below the clouds. After slowing down, getting the door partially secured and advising ATC, I was vectored back to mem airport and landed without incident. The cause of the problem was that the door did not fully lock prior to takeoff. This is a checklist item and is normally done after engine start and rechked prior to takeoff. However, the door seal had been recently replaced and complete locking was more difficult than expected. Although I deviated from my altitude in the TCA without clearance, I believe this was the safest action, i.e., to stay in VMC rather than having to fly instruments, slow and reconfigure the aircraft and close the door, all at the same time.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: AN SMA PLT RETURNED AND LANDED AFTER HIS CABIN DOOR CAME OPEN INFLT.
Narrative: AFTER DEP FROM MEM INTL IN SMA ACFT, I LEVELED AT 3000 FT MSL AS CLRED BY ATC. SHORTLY AFTER, THE FRONT COCKPIT CABIN DOOR POPPED OPEN. AT THIS TIME I WAS IN AND OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF A RAGGED OVCST. SINCE THE NOISE LEVEL WAS TOO HIGH TO MAINTAIN ADEQUATE COM WITH ATC AND I DID NOT WANT TO GET INTO IMC WHILE TRYING TO SECURE THE DOOR, I ELECTED -- WHILE STILL VMC -- TO DSND APPROX 300 FT TO STAY BELOW THE CLOUDS. AFTER SLOWING DOWN, GETTING THE DOOR PARTIALLY SECURED AND ADVISING ATC, I WAS VECTORED BACK TO MEM ARPT AND LANDED WITHOUT INCIDENT. THE CAUSE OF THE PROB WAS THAT THE DOOR DID NOT FULLY LOCK PRIOR TO TKOF. THIS IS A CHKLIST ITEM AND IS NORMALLY DONE AFTER ENG START AND RECHKED PRIOR TO TKOF. HOWEVER, THE DOOR SEAL HAD BEEN RECENTLY REPLACED AND COMPLETE LOCKING WAS MORE DIFFICULT THAN EXPECTED. ALTHOUGH I DEVIATED FROM MY ALT IN THE TCA WITHOUT CLRNC, I BELIEVE THIS WAS THE SAFEST ACTION, I.E., TO STAY IN VMC RATHER THAN HAVING TO FLY INSTS, SLOW AND RECONFIGURE THE ACFT AND CLOSE THE DOOR, ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.