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Jan 11 2018

QQ: Airport Jet Bridge Doors

Category: Panic Hardware,Quick QuestionLori @ 1:31 pm Comments (7)

Yesterday someone asked me about hardware requirements for doors serving the jet bridge – the walkway leading from the airport terminal to the door of the plane.  This is also known as the aircraft loading walkway or passenger boarding bridge (did you know that “Jetway” is a brand name?).  I remembered an old post about some doors in an airport, and I went back and checked the comments, where I found a reference to NFPA 415 that addresses the question:

Is panic hardware required on the door between the airport terminal and the jet bridge?

I think by now most of us can recite in our sleep the locations where panic hardware is required – high hazard occupancies, and assembly and educational occupants with an occupant load of 50 or 100 – depending on which code has been adopted.  But you never know where a requirement will pop up in another code or standard.  Since NFPA allows their standards to be read for free on their website, and NFPA 415 is only 21 pages long, I went to check it out.

Section 6.2.6 of this standard (2016 edition) states:  “Any door in the egress path through the loading walkway to the terminal building shall swing in the direction of egress from the aircraft toward the terminal building and shall be equipped with panic hardware on the aircraft side.”

As I was digging around, I found that NFPA 101 includes the same language applicable to airport loading walkways in Chapters 12 and 13, with some additional language prohibiting delayed egress locks in the path of egress between the plane and the terminal.  The requirements of NFPA 415 or NFPA 101 would not automatically apply to an airport unless adopted or referenced in that jurisdiction, BUT the FAA Advisory Circular on aircraft boarding equipment states that the passenger boarding bridge (PBB) is required to comply with NFPA 415.  It’s not 100% clear to me whether that requirement would extend to the door that leads from the bridge to the terminal, as that is not actually part of the bridge, but the intent is pretty clear – these doors should swing into the terminal and have panic hardware on the jet-bridge side of the door.

Have you run into this requirement before?  Or an airport project where this was not required?

7 Responses to “QQ: Airport Jet Bridge Doors”

  1. Eric Rieckers says:

    My last airport project had exit devices specified at a jet bridge but a change order revised them to double-sided keypad locks.

  2. A.J. Vanhooser says:

    We’ve run into similar situations with boarding bridges at cruise terminals. These bridges are typically manufactured by the same manufacturers as aircraft bridges and are also never very clear in the codes as to how to address them. Every single one has been different and every single jurisdiction has handled it differently. It is a good idea to discuss with the AHJ before a project gets to permitting so there are no surprises.

  3. A.J. Vanhooser says:

    …also, yes, the doors onto the boarding bridge are part of the building. The bridge meets the building with its own gasket / flashing. On some projects we’ve been required to place a barricade in front of the doors to prevent someone from opening them in case there is no bridge there at the time.

  4. Daniel Poehler says:

    911 and the resulting Patriot Act changed the way we use certain areas of certain facilities and this is the reason for the security device on both sides of the door leading from the jet bridge to the building. It’s always a “fail-secure” situation if electric locks are used. The rationale is based on securing a potential threat with the premise that only authorized persons having access. Every airport, large and small, is now secured in this manner.

  5. Dwight Havens says:

    When the plane is at the gate, the loading bridge is the only egress for anyone on the plane who is not an airport employee. Proper positioning of the gate especially the seals and shroud, which are designed to prevent smoke, heat and flames from entering the loading bridge, with respect to the aircraft, allowing emergency egress from the plane. The door at the end of the loading walkway is a part of the building and is required to be fire rated to prevent fire smoke and heat from entering the building should the bridge, its appurtenances, or a fire on the tarmac occur.

  6. Glenn Younger says:

    The door to the ground (tarmac) is now generally locked with a double sided lock. This is written into most Airport Security Plans. All of the major airports in the western US are now set up this way.
    I worked with the Denver Airport on this situation in 2002. The TSA, DHS, FAA and DIA Security & Facilities met with the local AHJ and LEOs, State Office of Homeland Security, State Office of Emergency Services, State Police, local OES, TSOC, FBI, FAA, TSA and finally the Airport GM. We (the lowly hardware supplier) were added at the request of the facilities department. So EVERYONE was at the table. The airport security plan was modified after that meeting.
    The thought process was if there was a fire on the jetway, travelers could return to the plane, and then exit through the emergency exits from the plane. This was thought to be the safer alternative as, if the fire was external; the stairway would lead right into the area of the fire. Better to exit away from the fire.

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