PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – Pilot Tom Roses owns a Piper PA 46, similar to the plane at the center of Thursday’s mid-air mystery.
Roses said the door on the plane has two sections and has several pins that hold it in place. Roses demonstrated that to open the top you need to pull out a pin and turn a handle at the same time. With all the safety features, he does not believe the door would just “pop” open.
“Was the pin that holds that handle in place defective?” he said. “That’s really the only thing because unless that was defective or wasn’t working I couldn’t see how the door would open up.”
Roses said even at 2,000 feet, which was the altitude at which Thursday’s incident occurred, a person could open the door without much of a problem.
“You’re talking about wind resistance which probably would help open the door if it caught it right,” Roses told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Roses said the pilot would see an indicator light and hear a beep once the door opened but he said because of the confined space on the plane it would be difficult for the pilot to get to the back area very quickly. Roses is curious about what caused this passenger to fall from the plane and he doubts it was a mechanical issue.
“If you’re asking my opinion, it had to be something on purpose,” he said. “I can’t see it being a problem with the plane.”
Pilots told Codd that safety investigators will be able to tell from the information recorded on the plane whether the door ajar button was lit up for a while, indicating that possibly the door malfunctioned or was open when the pilot took off. Also we’re told the plane’s readings will tell investigators if the plane was on autopilot.