SEATTLE- Seeing the wreckage from Saturday’s crash landing at San Francisco International Airport is scary for anyone who flies, but the reality is you have a very good chance of surviving a plane crash.
The odds have gone up considerably in the past 30 years, thanks to safety upgrades made to the inside and the body of planes.
“To see this airframe go through everything it did and still have the basic fuselage intact really is a testament to the mighty design Boeing put into this bird,” said retired pilot and aviation expert John Nance.
Nance said planes like this Boeing 777 have seats that can withstand up to 16 g-force to prevent foot, ankle and leg injuries so passengers can get off the plane safely. They are also built with flame-retardant materials. But what impressed Nance the most was how the aircraft withstood the brunt of the impact on landing.
“If you notice at one point in the simulation video that surfaced yesterday, the airplane is up on one wing and the nose. What happened was that wing held. With all that abuse, that’s the way they build them, very strong, and those wing boxes and spars saved the day Saturday,” said Nance.
He added that had that wing collapsed, the plane would have flipped and half of the passengers probably would have died.
Only two people died in the crash.
Passenger Eugene Rah credits the quick actions of flight attendants, such as a 100-pound woman who carried the injured to safety on her back.
“These folks had maybe three to five minutes to get everybody out of there. Some people had to be cut out of their seat belts and others lifted. To have that happen and get everyone out is really a testament to how this cabin safety thing has been going over the last 25-30 years,” said Nance.
Diane Tucker, who has been a flight attendant for 45 years, said she and her co-workers are trained to try to get everyone out in 90 seconds or less, before jet fuel ignites. She can’t say enough about the grit and guts of the flight crew in Saturday’s crash landing.
“The one flight attendant was so injured she didn’t even realize it because of the adrenaline and being focused on taking care of the passengers, picking up children and carrying them off the airplane,” said Tucker. “We need the passengers to help us. We beg you give us three minutes of your attention at the beginning of that flight during our safety presentation and we will count on you to help us when we need you.”