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Have you survived to a plane crash ?

For the moment, it didn’t happen to me yet, well I don’t know if I would like to experiment this kind of experience, at least in real life because if there is a simulator, I will surely try it, after all it will be a kind of attraction !!!

Once in a plane, it is recommended to listen and to watch carefully the hostess giving the safety instructions before that the plane takes off.

In my situation, I’m not always listening, I suppose that I assume that I already know it, something that I shouldn’t do because it seems that each company has different rules, although very similar, including reading the safety card after the safety briefing.

So to attract the attention of the passengers, some companies don’t hesitate to make a show with the help of the hostesses, it can be a good solution :-)

We may wonder if we can survive to a crash around 12.000 m (35.000 ft) which is the normal altitude of a commercial airplane, of course, it can go higher.

Our survival depend a lot of different conditions like the weather, the pilots, the plane… so many factors that even specialists can’t calculate exactly our chance to not die.

Like me, you saw on TV, news about crash in which no one survived but also happy stories in which the experience and the self control of the captain made the plane landed without incident.

For example the US Airways Flight 1549 in january 2009.

To increase the survive chance, don’t forget to tie the belt, it should be fastened during the entire trip when we are sat. Don’t let any slack because for every centimeter, the G force will triple during the crash and try to tie it as close as possible to the pelvis because it is a very strong structure limiting the damage. For instance, if it is around our stomach, there are more probabilities to get dangerous internal injuries.

Another story that I want to tell you, do you know about the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in 1972 in the Andes ? All passengers were dead except 16 who were rescued after almost 3 months, if you don’t know the story, you may wonder how they have survived in the extreme cold condition of the mountain, well for food, they had to eat the dead bodies that were preserved in the snow, practicing the cannibalism.

Like you see, a crash doesn’t mean that all passengers should die, some can survive, most by chance I will say than to respect the security, of course, respecting the security will increase the percentage of the survival chance. So we may wonder if it exists a safe seat, according to specialists, the answer is an absolutely no although there is a higher percentage of survival for people sitting on the tail seats than on the head seats. The seat near to the exit, the door can´t not work after the accident, in spite of this, try to figure out how to open it in case if all hostesses are dead. The middle seat because the plane body is stronger but it is where the fuel tank is located. The aisle seat because you can easily move and faster but there are more chances that the luggages from the box fall on your head. The window seat because you can enjoy a great view but it is harder to get out.

Before the crash, the hostess may scream “brace, brace”. It means that we have to do the brace position which consists to put back our seat at its upright position and according to:

  • if there is a seat in front of us, place both hands palm down on the back of the seat without crossing the fingers and then our head on it or put our head on the back of the seat, both hands on the back of our head by crossing the fingers and tucking our upper arms against the sides of our head
  • if there is no seat in front of us, bend until our head stays between our legs, our hands either hold the knees or behind the head without crossing the fingers and our feet should stay flat on the floor.

This brace position allows to prevent us efficiently to be thrown forward and from crashing on the front seats and if we can get a pillow to protect our head, it is better to use it. Now let me tell you the story of Rob De Knecht, a netherlands businessman, this guy survived at 2 crashes in less than 7 days. The first one happened in february 19, 2009, his plane slid on the runway and hit a streetlight and the second one in february 25, 2009, his plane crashed during the landing but luckily for him, this time he didn’t seat on the business class but in the economic class because the only 9 dead passengers were all sitting in business class. For both accidents, he get out with only 4 broken ribs and a head wound !!!

If you want to prepare yourself in case if something like this happens, following some recommendations:

  • once in the plane, take note of the closer exit/emergency doors and count how many rows are separated from your seat because you may be blind due to the smoke caused by the fire for instance. Even do it at home since most of the companies put a map of the plane on their website.
  • avoid boarding with sandals or high heels shoes because high heels are forbidden on the evacuation slide and if there are glasses on the floor, you can get cut wearing sandals.
  • put the life vest but don’t inflate it before to get out of the plane in case of crashing on water and take out shoes and excess clothes to be lighter. For instance, the plane crashes on the sea and you inflate it inside the plane, the flooded water will prevent you to get out easier and you may die drowned.
  • if there are fire and smoke, normally we have only less than 2 minutes to get out of the plane so we have to do it quickly by staying calm, if hostesses survived, just follow the instruction, in case not, use the common sense. To fight better against the smoke, try to put a wet cloth on the mouth and the nose and stay low (not crawling) because usually smoke goes on the ceiling.
  • technically, we have normally about 15 seconds to put the oxygen mask, of course, this time depends on the altitude, before to be unconscious so always put our mask first before to help others even if it is your child.
  • stay away from the crashed plane but not too far. On earth, it is easier for rescuers to spot the aircraft than you and staying too close during the first minutes it is not good because of the fire and/or explosion risk. On sea, better to swim as far away from the wreckage because it can drag us during its foundering if we are too close and after get back because normally rescuers know the crash position, of course if we see a land, better to swim over there.

This last story is about the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 which was hijacked and crashed in 1996 in the indian ocean after running out of fuel. During the evacuation, many of passengers inflated their life jacket inside the plane, unfortunately the water pushed them against the ceiling when the water flooded in and they drowned. At the end, instead to have many survivals, only 50 people survived.

The other thing we can do before to buy our ticket, it is to check the reliability of the airplane company. Don’t hesitate to take a look on the blacklist detailing airlines which are banned to plane in a country. For example, the European Union has this list available on internet where they list all airplanes banned to flight within the EU. Check the IATA (International Air Transport Aviation) one too.