The Discovery Channel Crashes A 727 Intentionally (Video)

After building a plastic model airplane I used to fantasize about what it would look like crashing. This urge became overwhelming when my best friend was over at my house trying to annoy me to death. So I sent a B-52 across my bedroom for a bombing run.

The end result was a crash that was a bit of a let down.

Someone at the Discovery Channel recently had a similar idea, albeit on a more grand scale. Back in March, Kate Nixon, a producer working for Discovery, emailed me looking for a ‘727 guru.’ She told me that they had purchased a Boeing 727 that they would be crashing in April for a scientific study. I’m sure the fact that it would make for some great T.V. was also part of the plan.

I explained that I was hardly a guru on the old three-engine Boeing, but that I might be able to put her in touch with someone. At the end of the exchange, I asked her what the “N” number was of the airplane to be crashed.

“Our aircraft is a 727-212 built in 1978 registration N293AS,” She said.

A quick check revealed I had flown that exact airplane when working for ExpressOne International (pic), a passenger charter airline. In fact, my sister Kim had flown it as a flight attendant at Alaska Airlines (pic), the original operator of the doomed airplane.

Kate swore me to secrecy and explained that the planned crash that would be extensively filmed for an upcoming special. They were mounting cameras inside and outside to capture the event. I suggested testing some AmSafe airbag seat belts that I had recently seen while sitting on a 737 at a bulkhead seat.

Of course I wanted to share it with all my friends at those two companies. But I had to keep quiet, at least until now.

They apparently used a pilot and some form of radio control device operated by a chase plane to guide it during the final moments. The pilot jumped out (D. B. Cooper style?) before the final descent into the ground.

And of course, in this day of cell phone cameras everywhere, someone managed to capture the crash, and it looks like the results for the Discovery Channel are far from a let down:


Here’s the full press release from the Discovery Channel:

DISCOVERY CHANNEL CRASHES A PASSENGER JET FOR SCIENCE DOCUMENTARY

A Boeing 727 passenger jet has been deliberately crash-landed in a remote and uninhabited Mexican desert as part of a scientific experiment for an unprecedented international television documentary for Discovery Channel, Channel 4 in the UK, plus Pro Sieben in Germany. The pilot ejected the 170-seat aircraft just minutes before the collision after setting it on a crash course, it was then flown remotely from a chase plane. The crash went according to plan and there were no injuries or damage to property.

Rather than carrying passengers, the plane was packed with scientific experiments, including crash test dummies. Dozens of cameras recorded the crash from inside the aircraft, on the ground, in chase planes and even on the ejecting pilot’s helmet. The program is being made by award-winning British production company Dragonfly Film and Television Productions.

The project aims to recreate a serious, but survivable, passenger jet crash landing with a real aircraft in order to allow an international team of experts to study the crashworthiness of the aircraft’s airframe and cabin as well as the impact of crashes on the human body, plus possible means of increasing passenger survivability and evaluating new ‘black box’ crash-recording technology.

The plane was crashed in a remote and unpopulated part of the Sonoran Desert of Baja California, Mexico. The location was chosen after an extensive international search to find a suitable location offering the perfect conditions for this groundbreaking scientific project.

For safety reasons, an exclusion zone at the crash site was manned by security teams, as well as the Mexican military and police. Ahead of the crash, a full safety review of the project was undertaken by the highly-qualified pilots and commanders as well as the Mexican authorities who concluded that it was safe for all concerned.

Following the crash, the aircraft will be salvaged and an extensive environmental clean-up operation is being carried out by a reputable agency with the full co-operation of the Mexican authorities.

“This ground breaking project features an actual crash of a passenger jet and explores the big questions about how to make plane crashes more survivable; it’s the ideal premiere episode for our CURIOSITY series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly seeking answers. This latest production captures that audaciousness perfectly and I can’t wait to share it,” said Eileen O’Neill, Group President of Discovery and TLC Networks.

“For the first time, leading scientists and veteran crash investigators, who have been enthusiastic supporters of this project, witness a plane crash in real time and explore what happens to the airframe and cabin, as well as the effects on the human body during a catastrophe of this magnitude. We hope to provide new information about how to improve the chances of survival while providing scientific results on passenger safety and new technologies, including new ‘black box’ flight data recording systems.”

Executive Producer, Sanjay Singhal, from Dragonfly Film and Television Productions, said: “NASA were the last people to attempt a crash test of a full passenger jet three decades ago. Now, with the improvements in filming and remote control technology we felt that the time was right to do it again. It’s never been safer to fly, but we want to use this as an opportunity to provide scientific data that might help to improve passenger safety in those extremely rare cases when a catastrophic aircraft accident does occur.

“This has been an extraordinary feat of organization, involving up to 300 people on location, including the production team, pilots, experts, risk management, plus local crew, military, fire teams and police. This is the culmination of four years of planning and hard work. We’re particularly grateful to the Mexican authorities for their assistance and support.”

The crash and the results of the accompanying research will be shown later this year in a feature-length documentary on Discovery Channel in the United States, Channel 4 in the UK plus Pro Sieben in Germany. The program is made by award-winning production company Dragonfly Film and Television Productions.

Iranian aircraft crash caught on new video

2009’s crash of an Iranian military aircraft was a terrible loss of life and technology. Emerging this week is a new perspective of the crash, captured from the back of a C130 that happened to be refueling an F-4 Phantom in the area. In the video, you can clearly see the Iranian aircraft spiraling out of control and tumbling down to earth, a haunting image captured purely by accident.

The new footage gives some insight into what the final moments of any plane crash must be like, a dizzying array of motion, confusion and terror. It’s enough to make one consider taking a long, quiet break from air travel.

[Editor’s note: the scenes from this video are graphic]

[Via Gizmodo]

What its like to survive a plane crash – 3 things one passenger learned about life

Have you ever wondered what its like to be in a crashing airplane? The thoughts that would go through your head? While many of us have no doubt experienced troubling turbulence, sitting in your seat as the engines fail and the aircraft careens towards the earth is probably every traveler’s worst nightmare.

In 2009, Us Airways flight 1549 experienced loss of both engines due to a collision with a flock of Canada geese. The crew had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson river. The story was covered extensively, and the heroics and decision making of the crew saved every life on board. Captain Sullenberger and the crew even received the keys to New York City.

This video from TED shows one passenger’s account of the horrifying ordeal that took place in 2009. Narrator Ric Elias was seated in the first row of the flight. In this video, he candidly shares his thought process during the crash and how this moment of terror actually transformed into a gift. He talks about the three things he learned and what it is like to confront death in a plummeting airplane.Link to TED

Fuel truck has a “fender bender” with a Delta Air Lines plane at Laguardia Airport


No injuries were reported after a fuel truck clipped a Delta Air Lines plane at New York’s Laguardia Airport Sunday, a Delta spokesperson said. The airline says all 106 passengers aboard flight 2879 were sitting down and the plane wasn’t moving when the accident occurred.

The plane has since been removed from service and sustained wing damage. The flight, scheduled to depart for Fort Lauderdale, was canceled. According to source NY1.com, a Port Authority spokesman says the driver of the fuel truck suffered cuts to his face.

Search for Air France 447 to resume

air france 447 searchFrench air accident investigators announced yesterday that search teams will return to a remote region of the Atlantic to resume the search for Air France Flight 447 in early 2011. Officials from the airline and the investigative agency recently met with families of the passengers on board that flight, who urged them to continue the search for the missing plane. Those families have lingering questions about what happened to their loved ones and why the plane went down under mysterious circumstances.

On June 1st, 2009, Flight 447 took off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on a trip to Paris, France. While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Airbus A330-200 encountered stormy weather and was never heard from again. There were 228 passengers on board at the time of the crash. The planes two flight recorders have never been recovered and little wreckage was ever found either.

This will be the fourth search team sent to the region where the plane is believed to have gone down. Previous searches have garnered few results in part because of the remote nature of the crash site. It will take two to four days by ship just to get to the location where the plane is believed to have gone down. Past searches have been hampered by underwater mountains, deep trenches, and thousands of miles of ocean.

The search is scheduled to resume in February of next year with investigators hoping to not only discover the wreckage, but also solve the mystery of why the plane crashed in the first place.

[Photo credit: Pawel Kierzkowski via WikiMedia]