Ever wondered how Singapore flight attendants swim in their long dresses if a plane ditches and whether you can open a door mid-flight?

At Singapore Airlines' training centre at its headquarters near Changi Airport, Celine Kwah answers the questions.

She's head of facilities and training administration in the flight operations division and runs through some of the safety training new recruits and current staff must do under Singapore's strict aviation rules.

Kwah shows visiting journalists a smoke-filled fuselage where new recruits work in pairs to rescue an average-weight adult and a baby mannequin from the mock-up which has different doors and slides according to the aircraft type. This one has A380 and Boeing 777 doors with different slides from each models.


The rookies have torches and smoke hoods while they work.

She explains that in a land evacuation they slide down to the ground, while in a water evacuation the slides are detached from the aircraft and become rafts.

The slides are packed into the thick lower part of the doors (where there is often a ''do not sit'' sign) and they are armed - ready to inflate with a gas canister - shortly after a plane pulls away from the gate.

A slide can be inflated in six to eight seconds.

Crew are also trained in a separate mock-up how to evacuate from bunks in their sleeping quarters on long-haul planes.

In the airline's new Airbus A350-ULR, the cabin crew have eight small beds in the ceiling towards the rear of the premium economy section. The lack of storage bins is the sign the area is being used as a rest area.

Kwah also explains how a high-tech door used for training crew on Boeing 787s works.

Pictures played in the small window mean you can simulate different types of situations, such as fire (when the slide can't be deployed) or ditching in water.

If there is a hissing sound when an armed door is opened, that means the slide is inflated and aircraft can be evacuated.


Can you open an airplane door mid-flight?

Celine Kwah, head of facilities and training at Singapore Airlines' operations division.

Asked whether a door can be opened in flight, Kwah says: ''Technically no, due to the differential pressure - you see in certain movies they do have it and that's because they are door handles are rotated on a Boeing and lifted on an Airbus.

The training centre also has its own large pool - heated to 28C and staffed by two lifeguards - to simulate ditching situations where crew must jump into the water get to a life raft and pull themselves into it or, if it's attached to the mock fuselage, learn how to untether it.

Staff from Singapore Airlines (SIA) offshoots Scoot and Silk Air also train at the facility.

She says rather than using slides for rafts, these airlines have specially designed rafts not attached to the door but stowed in a locker on board. In the case of ditching, the crew and passengers lug it out to the wing and then take to the water in it.

Staff must do the water jump and swim to qualify and they do a refresher every two years.

She is often asked how do their female flight attendants swim in such long tailor-made dresses - kebeya - whose different colours denote their rank.

She reveals the secret.

''Our kebaya has a slit in the centre to allow for bigger steps so we teach our crew to pull up the kebaya and where the slit is tie a knot making it into a short skirt. With that being done they are able to move into the water, jump, swim or water much easier.''