Chinese air travelers have tried opening emergency doors without authorization 12 times in barely four months on planes that were taxiing or at a standstill, and one man was put on trial in the country’s first such legal case, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said Monday.
There is no immediate explanation for the apparent spike in the behavior this year, although Chinese are traveling in record numbers, many of them flying for the first time and lacking basic aviation safety knowledge.
The man, identified only by his family name of Piao, stood trial Monday on the charge of endangering public safety in the northeastern city of Yanji, the administration said in a statement.
Piao opened an emergency door on an Asiana Airlines flight on Feb. 12 when the plane was taxiing, causing the emergency slide to eject and prompting the flight crew to take emergency measures to halt the aircraft, the administration said.
His act caused the flight to be delayed for four hours and severely disrupted the airport operations, the administration said. Earlier media reports said Piao mistakenly raised the handle of the emergency door and was administratively detained for 10 days.
Passengers have opened emergency doors without authorization 11 other times in 2015 at airports throughout the country, the administration said.
The acts “have severely hurt aviation safety, disrupted flight operations and caused ill social impact,” the statement said.
There is no data available for previous years, but the attention paid in China to the current incidents suggest such acts were rare or non-existent in the past. Authorities appear to be publicizing recent cases as a way to educate the public and stop such acts.
Last week, tourism authorities publicly shamed Beijing resident Zhou Yue by putting him on a national blacklist for rude behaviors. Upset with flight delay, Zhou forcibly opened two emergency doors on a domestic flight in January, and he was late administratively detained for 15 days.
In one case last year, a man pulled the handle to open an emergency door to let in fresh air while passengers were boarding the plane in the eastern city of Hangzhou, according to media reports.
Piao is the first person in China to face a criminal charge for the wanton act, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said. No verdict was announced on Monday.
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