How to survive a plane crash

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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Reprinted from CNN

By Emma Clarke

LONDON, England (CNN) — We tend to assume that if an airplane crashes our time is up. But recent experience and statistics tell a different story.

Out of the 134 people on board the Turkish Airlines flight that crashed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport last week, 125 survived.

When the U.S. Airways plane ditched in the Hudson River, New York in January, every passenger and member of crew walked away.

Official statistics also offer some comfort. U.S. government data revealed that 95.7 percent of the passengers involved in airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000 survived. Even in the most serious crashes — 26 in that period — over half lived.

And fatalities continue to fall. In 2008 there were 109 accidents, nine more than 2007, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). But fatalities fell from 692 in 2007 to 502 in 2008.

The industry-wide accident rate is just one accident per 1.2 million flights.

Safety advances implemented during the 1980s and 1990s, as well as improvements in staff training have helped to improve survival rates.

But passengers’ decisions and actions could also mean the difference between life and death.

CNN Business Traveller visited Cranebank, the British Airways Flight Training Center in West London, to learn how passengers can improve their survival chances. 

Ex-cabin crew run the BA Flight Safety Awareness course that has already given almost 9,000 delegates from safety-conscious companies the ability to become leaders, not followers in an incident.

The experts advise passengers to approach their flight with a clear mind, keep calm and heed the following advice.

Make a plan. When you board a plane, get in tune with your environment. Visibility will be reduced in a smoke-filled cabin, so count the number of rows between you and the two nearest exits.

Always listen to the pre-flight safety briefing and study the seat-back safety card. Don’t assume you know it all, as every type of airplane has different safety instructions.

If you’re sitting in an exit row, study the door and make sure you know how to open it. Cabin crew will not order you to operate the exit, so make sure you have confidence to take control in an accident.

Dress properly. You will need to be able to stay warm if you survive a crash so wear long sleeves and trousers and avoid wearing high heels as these must be removed before evacuating via an emergency slide.

Keep your seatbelt securely fastened. But also remember how it unfastens.

“It has been found that people who have survived emergency landings frantically search for where they expect the seatbelt to fasten [on the hip as in a car],” says Andy Clubb, BA Safety Course Director. “You often find bruising and cuts in that area,” he added.

The safest seat probably doesn’t exist.

In 2007, Popular Mechanics magazine analyzed data for crashes since 1971 and found that more passengers near the tail of a plane survived crashes than those in the first few rows up front.

But in last week’s Turkish Airlines crash, reports suggest that survivors were sat in the center of the plane. Many believe this section is safest because it is also the strongest part of the fuselage. That said, the fuel tank is also located in the center, warns Clubb.

A seat next to an exit does not always guarantee a speedy evacuation since some exits may not function after an accident.

And while an aisle seat may ensure an easier exit, you are also at risk from falling objects from overhead lockers. A errant bottle of duty free is also a more common occurrence than an air crash.

Check for a life jacket before taking off. It will be in a plastic casing usually under the seat.

Do not inflate your jacket in the plane. Many of the 123 who were killed in the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 off the Comoro Islands near Africa in 1996 had inflated their jackets in the cabin. This meant that they were unable to dive and reach the exits when the cabin flooded.

Brace yourself for impact. The aim is to prevent being rapidly propelled forward.Return your seat to the upright position and lower your head to your knees or rest it on the seat in front of you.

Put your hands behind your head, but do not lace your fingers. Keep your elbows to the side of your head, but not over knees.

Many of the victims and survivors of the M1 Kegworth crash of 1989 (79 of the 126 people on board survived) had legs broken below the knee as their legs were forced against the seats in front of them. So keep your feet as far back as possible.

And ignore Internet rumors that the brace position guarantees to break your neck and back to make death as painless as possible, says Clubb. It has been proven to minimize injury.

Jump. When it’s time to leave the aircraft, exit will be by slide. Jump feet-first, arms folded across chest and lean forward.

And if you hesitate, Clubb warns, a member of cabin crew is likely to push you.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/03/04/survive.airplane.accident/

Plane Makes Emergency Landing at J.F.K.

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Other Events

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Reprinted from The New York Times

Written by Al Baker

A commercial jetliner suffered a loss of one of its two engines shortly after taking off from La Guardia Airport on Wednesday morning and was forced to make an emergency landing at Kennedy International Airport, officials said.

American Airlines Flight 309, an MD-80 bound for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, landed at Kennedy around 8:35 a.m. after losing a trail of metal parts, evidently from its No. 2 engine, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Some of the metal parts were reported to have fallen onto a rooftop of a commercial building in Queens.

There were 88 passengers and five crew members on board, said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the airline. No one was injured.

The flight departed La Guardia shortly after 8 a.m. As it climbed to its flying altitude, the crew reported hearing a loud noise, then told air-traffic controllers that its second engine had failed. A special crew of emergency responders rushed to the runway, bracing for the possibility of a crash landing or fire, as the plane landed safely at Runway 22 Right, according to Jim Peters, an F.A.A. official. The plane then taxied to the ramp.

Most of the engine parts, including a four-foot section, landed on the roof of a plumbing company’s building on 123rd Street, in College Point, Mr. Peters said. He said federal officials and officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had gone to the location.

“The F.A.A. sent guys over there to inspect it,” Mr. Peters said. “The Port Authority police sent a unit over there and are in the process of picking up the pieces and photographing them, and they will be brought over to La Guardia for inspection.”

A man who answered the phone at Varsity Plumbing and Heating, at 31-99 123rd Street, said he was there when debris landed on the roof.

“As far as I know, just something fell off the plane and landed on the roof,” said the man, who provided only his first name, Steve. “I don’t know what it was or how it happened.” He said that the business was in the regular flight path and that people there often heard the roar of planes overhead.

In addition, a police official said a piece of the plane’s engine landed on a car, and damaging it, in Queens.

Metal fragments that the engine threw off all came out the back end and not through its cowling, or engine cover. None hit the fuselage, officials said. Mr. Peters characterized the No. 2 engine failure as, “a contained engine failure, because all of the metal went out the rear of the engine; none of it went through the cowling.”

In similar emergencies, engine parts coming through the fuselage have killed passengers or caused crashes. Twin-engine airplanes must be able to complete a takeoff and return to land safely on a single engine.

From the perspective of a passenger sitting inside the cabin, the No. 2 engine is on the right rear side of the aircraft.

Officials said the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington had been notified of the emergency landing, but Mr. Peters said it was unclear whether the safety board would come to New York and formally begin an investigation.

Ms. Huguely said the passengers were bused back to La Guardia, “so that we could place them on other Chicago flights.”

The MD-80 commercial plane has a capacity for 136 or 140 passengers, depending on the configuration.

“There was a pilot, a co-pilot and three flight attendants,” said Ms. Huguely, of the airline, adding that she did not know their experience level.

She added, “Our crews are trained to handle situations such as these, and our pilots did a fantastic job in landing the aircraft safely.”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/plane-makes-emergency-landing-at-jfk/?hp

‘Toxic’ fumes found on passenger planes

Author: Alisa Brodkowitz  |  Category: Fumes

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Reprinted from NEWS.com.au

PASSENGERS on some of the world’s popular airlines are reportedly breathing in contaminated air, an investigation has revealed.

Swab samples taken by German television network, ARD, along with Swiss broadcasters Schweizer Fernsehen, reportedly found high levels of a dangerous toxin onboard several planes.

Undercover journalists took 30 swabs in total, which were later analysed by leading toxicologist Professor Christian van Netten.

Twenty-eight samples were found to contain high levels of tricresyl phosphate (TCP), found in modern jet oil, which can lead to drowsiness, headaches, respiratory problems or neurological illnesses.

Scientists refer to the condition as Aerotoxic Syndrome.

The investigations said since the air in aircraft cabins are usually not filtered, TCP can find its way through air conditioning and inhaled by cabin crew and passengers.

In February 2008, Swedish pilot Neils Gomer revealed how he was almost completely incapacitated by toxic fumes, which also left passengers in a “zombie-like condition”.

Speaking to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Mr Gomer said he was close to vomiting before managing to put on his mask while flying at 600 miles an hour.

The pilot managed to land, but said later that if he had delayed by seconds going on to oxygen the plane would have crashed.

The paper said incidents of contaminated air on aircraft are referred to in hundreds of reports filed by pilots in recent years.

Last year,  Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority set up an independent team to investigate the possibility of dangerous toxins on passenger planes.

The Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality (EPAAQ) includes medical doctors and a professor of toxicology and the University of New South Wales.

“Following the ongoing debate on whether cabin air quality is an issue, we have set up a 10-man team of experts to look at all the research that has been done; any information from Australia and to review all the evidence,” CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.

“Australia is probably one of the most pro-active countries in the world at looking into the debate.”

Mr Gibson said while many people have made claims, there has been no definitive scientific evidence to prove aircraft poisoning.

“While we haven’t heard of people getting sick regularly when they get off aircraft, we do take the claims seriously and want to know about it.

“The evidence is simply not there at this stage that aeroplanes are making people sick.”

Mr Gibson said the results from the investigation will be released in 2010

http://www.news.com.au/travel/story/0,23483,25060556-36335,00.html?from=public_rss