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Why Do Airlines Only Use The Left Side Door?  
User currently offlineminmaguire From United Arab Emirates, joined Nov 2011, 16 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7081 times:

I've always wondered where the precedent of using the left hand side doors to board aircraft comes from? obviously now it makes sense for ease of use at airports etc , but why left and not right?!!

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKAUSpilot From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1958 posts, RR: 33
Reply 1, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7079 times:

It comes from ocean going ships. The left side of a ship is called the "port side" because it's the side that faced the port/dock/pier. Many things from ships carried over into aviation, which makes sense considering that pan am's flying boats played a significant role in air travel's developmental years, with the flying boats (seaplanes) often sharing facilities with ocean going ships.

User currently offlineKAUSpilot From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1958 posts, RR: 33
Reply 2, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7070 times:

Also if you want to know more about how the terms port and starboard came about wikipedia has a decent entry on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_and_starboard

To summarize, the steering oar on rowing ships was on the right side (because most sailors were right handed), so ships docked with the left side facing the port to avoid crushing the steering oar.

There's no real advantage I can think of to boarding airplanes from the left, other than tradition from ships and also perhaps the fact that the captain sits on the left and can observe the jetway and other equipment a bit better from the left while he is taxiing.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6369 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 7033 times:

As a practical matter, I believe on many types the 1R door is narrower than the 1L door....  


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22847 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 7027 times:

It's an old thread (and I can't blame you for not finding it given the search function), but there's some good discussion here: Origin Of Boarding At L-1? (by Cubsrule May 15 2004 in Tech Ops)


I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineyeelep From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 653 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6999 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 3):

Also, shorter on many models.


User currently offlineTristarsteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3998 posts, RR: 34
Reply 6, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6974 times:

I once (only once) flew on a BEA Comet 4B LHR-ORY.
Special trip. I had just got staff travel, and BEA only had one Comet left
which only operated one flight a day.
The boarding was by stairs (the norm in 1969) by the R1 door.
On the Comet the L1 door was much smaller than R1, so
boarding was R2 or L2.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17015 posts, RR: 67
Reply 7, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6571 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 3):
As a practical matter, I believe on many types the 1R door is narrower than the 1L door....

Sure. But that's a consequence, not a reason for using 1L.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 8, posted (2 years 9 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6551 times:

Quoting KAUSpilot (Reply 1):
The left side of a ship is called the "port side" because it's the side that faced the port/dock/pier.

Thank you - I learn something every day on this forum.

20 years in the US Navy and I never heard that explaination, though to be honest I never asked!!!!


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6369 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (2 years 9 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 6203 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 7):
Sure. But that's a consequence, not a reason for using 1L.

Well sure, but I'm just trying to say why you'd have a difficult time being a paragon in this situation, should you try and buck tradition 



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlinesimairlinenet From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 912 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (2 years 9 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5983 times:

Aside from historical precedent, it's also useful to have passengers boarding on one side and bags and servicing on the other to avoid ramp congestion and reduce safety risks.

User currently offlineoldtimer From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 191 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (2 years 9 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5979 times:

Quoting Tristarsteve (Reply 6):
I once (only once) flew on a BEA Comet 4B LHR-ORY.
Special trip. I had just got staff travel, and BEA only had one Comet left
which only operated one flight a day.
The boarding was by stairs (the norm in 1969) by the R1 door.
On the Comet the L1 door was much smaller than R1, so
boarding was R2 or L2.



You are correct, the L1 door is so small, its invisible. Comet a/c had a 2L but none had a 1L.
The 1R on a comet was also small compared to other aircraft and there was many a banged skull getting in and out of them. Great aircraft to fly in though with a very good take-off climb.



Oldtimer, I should have known better!
User currently online1337Delta764 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6470 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 9 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5968 times:

Also, I think that on aircraft with upward-sliding doors (such as the 767), only the left side ones have power-assist, the ones on the right have to be lifted manually.


The Pink Delta 767-400ER - The most beautiful aircraft in the sky
User currently offlineoldtimer From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 191 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 9 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5960 times:

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):
lso, I think that on aircraft with upward-sliding doors (such as the 767), only the left side ones have power-assist, the ones on the right have to be lifted manually.


On DC10 and L1011 all doors were powered.



Oldtimer, I should have known better!
User currently offlineandz From South Africa, joined Feb 2004, 8449 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (2 years 9 months 1 day ago) and read 5736 times:
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I only ever boarded on the right during stops at Ilha do Sal en route to the USA.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Julian Whitelaw




After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (2 years 9 months 23 hours ago) and read 5706 times:

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Reply 12):
Also, I think that on aircraft with upward-sliding doors (such as the 767), only the left side ones have power-assist, the ones on the right have to be lifted manually.



Again, as a consequence to the tradition of boarding on the left, not a reason. Very easy to have both doors mechanical.

Quoting andz (Reply 14):
I only ever boarded on the right during stops at Ilha do Sal en route to the USA.



I've boarded on the starboard side of an NA 767 before in Lajes. Also boarded a DL 763ER on the starboard side in JFK last year. For some reason the a/c was on hardstand (maybe gate availability issues) and we were put on the "rovers" and the buses pulled right up to 1R and was raised to the door level.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offline26point2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 817 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 9 months 14 hours ago) and read 5588 times:

Most bizjets have only one cabin entry door and it's always on the left side. Easy to spot a badly edited promo pic when a plane is shown in flight with the door on the right side.

User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (2 years 9 months 13 hours ago) and read 5565 times:

Quoting oldtimer (Reply 13):
On DC10 and L1011 all doors were powered.

On the L-1011-1 (and -50, -100, -150, -200 and -250) the two Type 1 doors (the two aft most doors) are manual. They have to be hand cranked up and down. However, they do have a counterbalance that will open them in a emergency but then have to be hand cranked down.


User currently offlineoldtimer From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 191 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (2 years 9 months 8 hours ago) and read 5462 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 17):
On the L-1011-1 (and -50, -100, -150, -200 and -250) the two Type 1 doors (the two aft most doors) are manual. They have to be hand cranked up and down. However, they do have a counterbalance that will open them in a emergency but then have to be hand cranked down.

I only worked on the CourtLine L1011 and they did not have any type 1 doors. We carried 400 pax as standard so needed big doors at all 8 stations



Oldtimer, I should have known better!
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1645 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (2 years 8 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4973 times:

The first DC-3s ordered by American all boarded from the single door on the right. You can tell that a DC-3 Is really old if the door is on the starboard side. Ernie Gann explained that this was because the Captain didn't want to even look at the passengers. I recall, as a child, flying on one of these birds in the 1950s, operated by Pioneer Airlines in Texas. it, also, had the 2-1 seating arrangement. I thought that was fun because I got a seat all to myself.

User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 20, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4882 times:

Quoting KAUSpilot (Reply 2):
To summarize, the steering oar on rowing ships was on the right side (because most sailors were right handed), so ships docked with the left side facing the port to avoid crushing the steering oar.

Thats Educational....

Ground equipment....GPU/Cargo loaders/refuellers take space on the RH side,hence LH side is more clutter free.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25106 posts, RR: 22
Reply 21, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4706 times:

There have been occasional exceptions at certain airports.

Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 19):
The first DC-3s ordered by American all boarded from the single door on the right. You can tell that a DC-3 Is really old if the door is on the starboard side.

AA also required a right-side door on the Convair 240, the original model of the ConvairLiner series for which AA was launch customer with an order for 80, mainly as a DC-3 replacement.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Bill Armstrong




The door was moved to the more usual left side starting with the 340.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Bill Armstrong




As a sidenote, AA´s Curtiss Condors, which the DC-3 replaced, also had a right-side door.



User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13985 posts, RR: 62
Reply 22, posted (2 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4426 times:

Acc. to my grandfather (who was flying gliders in the 1930s), it went back to cavalry customs:
You always mount a horse from the left side.
Since most early aviators (at least the German ones during WW1) came from cavaly units, they tended to climb into their aircraft from the left side.

BTW, the Russian Li-2 (licence built DC-3) had it´s pax door on the right side, as had the IL-12 and IL-14.

Jan


User currently offlinechrisco1204 From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 28 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3703 times:

Quoting minmaguire (Thread starter):
It comes from ocean going ships. The left side of a ship is called the "port side" because it's the side that faced the port/dock/pier. Many things from ships carried over into aviation, which makes sense considering that pan am's flying boats played a significant role in air travel's developmental years, with the flying boats (seaplanes) often sharing facilities with ocean going ships.

That is extremely interesting. Who'd of thought? Most of the ladders for single seat aircraft hang off the left side of the aircraft as well. What a correlation.


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