Only Two Passengers Lose Lives in Plane Crash: Luck or Refined Safety Features Proving Effective?

Screen-shot-2013-07-10-at-9.55.45-AMOn July 6 the Asiana 777 crashed while landing in San Francisco. While many passengers incurred injuries, miraculously, there were only two casualties. Some aviation consultants maintain that the high rate of survival was the result of industry changes such as fire retardant materials, perfected evacuation processes and improved employee training. Zintro experts in the aviation industry discuss whether these refined safety features are  responsible for the high survival rate or if it was a lucky circumstance.

Tobias Rueckerl works as an advanced aviation consultant and thinks “The high rate of survival is a result of permanent developments regarding security and safety in the industry. This accident shows how important it is to train cabin crews on a [regular] basis. Only well trained cabin crews ensure a quick evacuation process in case of an accident. The materials used in the aircraft definitely support the [chances of surviving] such a crash. However,” continues Rueckerl, “luck and the circumstances of the accident are major factors. If the aircraft came down a bit earlier, into the sea…or flipped over on the runway… the picture could have been very different.” Ultimately, based on his knowledge of aviation, Tobias Rueckerl believes it was a “mix of safe materials and luck that ensured most of the passengers and crew survived.”

Enrique Olvera Loren has legal and operational expertises in the Aviation field and believes the high rate of survival was “definitely the result of years of investigation and development of materials, training and new Aircraft construction technology. Every accident is based on a chain of small errors, there is no chance for luck or circumstances.”

According to Sasho Andonov, a aviation safety and systems auditor, “Preliminary investigation showed that the aircraft’s speed was below the landing minimum and (maybe) this is the reason for the crash. Actually, I do believe that the low speed [could also be] the reason for high rate of survival. New materials contribute to the safety, but speed of the aircraft is most important.”

Cary Brown, an aircraft and maintenance operations expert, begins: “While I certainly would give credit to the significance of the role played by improved material fire resistance and suppression systems I think the cabin crew training was without question the biggest factor given the following: No verbal warning from the cockpit of impending danger, a contingent of Chinese students, S.Koreans and Americans which must present a tremendous crew/pax communication issue under the circumstances, two emergency sides that failed to deploy correctly and in fact pinned to two flight attendants inside the cabin.”

“As the investigation unfolds it will be interesting to see if training relative to Cockpit / Crew communications was a factor given that the co-pilot had significantly more experience in the 777 than did the pilot.” Brown notes that “In the history of Korean Air accidents, poor crew communication has been a major factor [insofar that] the copilot would not challenge or question the pilot’s decisions since he/she was considered the ultimate authority in flying the aircraft: no copilot would dare question his/her actions. All this being said there is still a lot of information to be gathered relative to the cause of the accident.”

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By Gabriela Meller

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