How to Sur­vive a Plane Crash: What Can Tragedy Teach Us?

Keep your ears open:The best way to in­crease your chances of mak­ing it safely out of a crash is to lis­ten to the cabin crew, keep aisles and gang­ways clear and to re­main calm

Fiji Sun - - Comment - „ Ar­ti­cle pub­lised in NBC News Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­

Five peo­ple cheated death when a jet car­ry­ing a Brazil­ian soc­cer team crashed in a moun­tain­ous part of Colom­bia — and where they were sit­ting could help ex­plain why they sur­vived.

“It is sur­pris­ing” that any­one sur­vived, UKbased avi­a­tion an­a­lyst Alex Macheras­said. “How this air­craft im­pacted, where the im­pact ac­tu­ally took place or hap­pened. They are all de­ter­min­ing fac­tors as to the out­come of it.” The doomed Avro RJ85 air­craft was car­ry­ing the Chapecoense soc­cer team when it came down late Mon­day night around 18 miles from Jose Maria Cor­dova In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Medellin.

The best seat for sur­vival?

A project car­ried out by Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics mag­a­zine nine years ago looked at all crashes since 1971 found that peo­ple in the rear seats of a plane had a 40 per cent greater chance of sur­viv­ing than pas­sen­gers to­ward the front.

Ed Galea, a pro­fes­sor and fire safety re­search group leader at Lon­don’s Univer­sity of Green­wich, found that seat­ing ar­range­ments can help peo­ple es­cape the air­craft safely af­ter the ini­tial im­pact.

Pub­lished in 2011, Galea’s anal­y­sis con­cluded that seats close to the rear of the plane and aisle seats were gen­er­ally safer af­ter analysing more than 100 plane crashes and in­ter­view­ing 1900 sur­vivors. Those sit­ting five rows from an exit were the most likely to es­cape, he found.

Galea also sug­gested that pas­sen­gers prac­tice how to open their seat belt and count the rows to their near­est exit be­fore take-off. This way, if a cabin fills with smoke, pas­sen­gers can feel their way to an exit. Given that the plane was about to land, Macheras be­lieves it likely was in a con­trolled de­scent and did not sim­ply fall out of the sky. And with the crew still in con­trol, that in­creases the pas­sen­gers’ chances for sur­vival, he said.

Still, Macheras is not en­tirely con­vinced that where the sur­vivors were sit­ting was the key to their sur­vival. He said there are so many vari­ables in­volved in any plane crash. “It com­pletely de­pends as no crash is the same,” he said.

“Pas­sen­gers should not be specif­i­cally choos­ing to sit some­where in the hopes that they sur­vive a crash.”

Sta­tis­tics do seem to bear out the fact that when crashes hap­pen, sur­vival is more likely on a larger air­craft, Marcheras said.

He said that is most likely be­cause larger fuse­lages are able to with­stand greater im­pacts.

Keep your ears open

Macheras said the best way to in­crease your chances of mak­ing it safely out of a crash is to lis­ten to the cabin crew, keep aisles and gang­ways clear and to re­main calm.

“That safety brief­ing is as key as ever,” Macheras said. “Many don’t seem to lis­ten to it. They never know when it’s go­ing to be­come handy as such but luck­ily it’s not too of­ten be­cause air travel is very safe.”

It’s also im­por­tant to note that the vast ma­jor­ity of air­craft crashes do not re­sult in fa­tal­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to oft-quoted re­search by the Na­tional Trans­port Safety Board from 2001.

“In terms of avi­a­tion in­ci­dents and ac­ci­dents on the whole, the main thing to in­crease your like­li­hood of sur­vival is to lis­ten... it is to watch the safety brief­ing be­fore take­off, it is to lo­cate your near­est exit, it’s to adopt the brace po­si­tion when in­structed to and to fol­low all the in­struc­tions of the crew,” Macheras said.

Chapecoense player Alan Ruschel re­ceives med­i­cal at­ten­tion af­ter sur­viv­ing Mon­day night’s plane crash.

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