Evacuation Slide Mysteriously Falls Off of a Boeing Plane in Flight and Lands in Family's Yard

If you’re keeping a running list of all the things that could potentially go wrong with Boeing’s planes, you can add “mysteriously ejects its own emergency inflatable evacuation slide” to the list, as a Milton, Massachusetts, family discovered yesterday afternoon.

According to a Delta Airlines spokesperson, the deflated slide came from a flight that was en route from Paris to Boston on Sunday. The Federal Aviation Administration also confirms that as the aircraft approached Boston’s Logan Airport the pilot reported a loud and mysterious noise but was still able to safely land the plane. It sounds like a mystery you’d want to solve before touching down with a 100,000-pound vehicle moving at 180 miles per hour, but thankfully there was no incident.

The evacuation slide is one of several safety measures included on commercial airliners and is designed to deploy and quickly inflate (regulations require them to fully inflate in less than 10 seconds) allowing passengers to safely exit the craft through its doors and emergency exits that are located more than six feet from the ground. When deflated and packed away, the slides are small enough to be integrated into the bottom of aircraft doors, or in compartments near a plane’s exits so that they’re automatically deployed when the doors are opened in an emergency. How this slide somehow managed to fall off this flight is still unknown, but a Delta maintenance team is currently inspecting the craft and investigating how this could have happened.


No one was hurt when the evacuation slide landed in Wenhan Huang’s yard, although a neighbor was apparently a few feet from where it landed and could have been seriously injured had it hit her. Regrettably, just before impact, the slide did take out several branches of Huang’s Japanese maple tree, but there’s no word on whether Delta plans to compensate the homeowner for his loss.

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Observations - the slide isn’t inflated - parts of it are still stowage-folded. This means it came out of it’s housing without being ‘armed’. The BOS-CDG flight is a 757-200. The main door slides (front and rear) are mounted in boxes on the insides of the doors so it would be bloody obvious if one of those doors wasn’t armed and was opened in-flight - the only way the evac slide package could end up outside.

Best guess then it was one of the over-wing window exits where the evac slide is stored in a compartment accessible from the outside of the aircraft.

How it was ejected without going off is a concern. Pressure difference means it doesn’t matter if the passenger was messing with the window exit - they’d never get it open, let alone open enough to trigger the slide unless maybe this happened within the last 8000ft of descent to landing. But if that was the case, the slide should have inflated which it clearly didn’t.