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Children More Likely To Survive Plane Crashes?  
User currently offlineElite From Hong Kong, joined Jun 2006, 3049 posts, RR: 10
Posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7355 times:

There are a lot of incidents in which babies or children survive plane crashes. Is this a coincidence or something that is a fact?


15 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4591 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7304 times:

It is a not established whether children's survivability is greater in an air crash. You are asking this in response to the fact a child survived the 310 crash. There are no statistics to support this and I don't think it has to do with anything but just being fortunate. Far more adults have survived air crashes then children. Its more just luck if you survive an air crash. My philosophy is the further back in the plane you sit you are the last one to hit the mountain so maybe you would survive that crash.

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User currently offlineRikkus67 From Canada, joined Jun 2000, 1846 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7269 times:

This is an interesting topic.

There are two examples that I can think of, in which children were the only survivors:

United Airlines DC-8 collision with TWA Constellation. This happened back in the late 50's. The only survivor was a young boy who was pulled from the DC-8. Regretfully, he eventually succumbed to his injuries.

IIRC, JAL 747 crash into terrain. In this case, a young girl was found in a tree. I might have this accident partially confused with another asian carrier crash, so correct me if I am wrong.

User currently offlineReadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 4283 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7228 times:

Would a smaller body mass play a part with regard to impact?

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User currently offlineMtnWest1979 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 2912 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 7204 times:
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Also the girl that was the sole survivor of NW MD-80 in DTW.

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User currently offlineMAH4546 From Sweden, joined Jan 2001, 34613 posts, RR: 70
Reply 5, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 7167 times:

There was also the AA plane that crashed in Cali. Two children, as well as two adults and a dog in the cargo hold, survived the crash, though unfortunately one of the children would pass away shortly after. It is actually likely that far more people survived the Cali crash then just them, but it took rescue services hours to get to the plane.

[Edited 2009-07-01 09:58:27]

User currently offlineSmolt From Japan, joined Nov 1999, 286 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6998 times:

The case Rikkus67 mentioned above is that of JAL flight 123 crashed on 12 Aug 1985 (reg JA8119),
in which only 4 of 524 passengers survived. All survivors were females, two were children.
They were respectively 8, 12, 26 and 34 years old. The 12 years girl was with both of her parents and a younger sister.
I remember one of seven survivors was a boy below ten years old, out of 271 passengers on board China Airlines flight 140 crashed on 26 Apr 1994.

User currently offlineAidanoc5793 From Ireland, joined Apr 2009, 105 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6971 times:

Children are less likely to panic, whereas adults would stiffen up on impact a child would be more likely to move with the plane, theres no scientific proof but in many car crashes more children are less likely to die than adults because they are not resisting the forces of impact.

User currently offlineNWADC9 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4904 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6900 times:

Another thing to consider is a parent/guardian may cover the child before impact, like what happened in the NW225 crash...

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User currently offlineTsaord From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6884 times:

Well, given all the years plane crashes have taken place, I think children just like adults are on the losing side of this.

User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 12167 posts, RR: 56
Reply 10, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 6719 times:

I seem to remember reading a report which agreed that children can survive harsher impacts because their bodies are more subtle. It makes sense - as a young kid you can throw yourself around for hours and not break anything, try it when you're 30 though and you'll probably end up in A&E.

The was a plane crash in Egypt/North Arfica where the sole survivor was a small baby or toddler, can't recall any more details though, but I think it was a 737 which crashed.

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User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3993 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6688 times:

Quoting Brilondon (Reply 1):
There are no statistics to support this and I don't think it has to do with anything but just being fortunate.

There actually *are* statistics to support it. In crashes where there are very few survivors (1-10), those survivors are disproportionately children and crew members.

There are logical reasons for it. Children are often physically protected by their parents, and they're also smaller and are therefore able to withstand being forced into smaller spaces that might crush an adult. They're also less likely to suffer fatal events like a heart attack or cardiac arrest from an age-weakened body (many passengers don't die on impact, but later from their injuries or from secondary causes).

Crew members are often seated at bulkheads with shoulder harnesses on. It's also well established that backward-facing seats are safer in an accident, and cabin crew are often seated in backward-facing seats.

So it's not really surprising when you hear that the sole survivor of any accident would be a child, or a flight attendant.

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User currently offlineDenverDanny From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 272 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6683 times:

It's probably just by chance that a child was sitting in the right seat in some cases, like the DC-8 Constellation collision.

It is interesting though that on UA232, 3 of the 4 infants survived the crash, even though they were not really restrained. One of the concerns with adults is what happens during deceleration. Because I think that's the reason you grab your ankles or place your head on your arms on the seat in front of you, so as not to hit your head full force into the seat. So, I'm betting because children are smaller, they don't have that problem of being big enough to hit the seat back with tremendous force like adults can, which results in incapacitating injuries. In that regard, they do have a small advantage in a crash, but not much. They might be more flexible too, which could mean less injuries and successful escape. Other problems encountered could be undoing your seat belt or successfully exiting a plane. Children are at a disadvantage there unless someone assists them. One of the casualties in the A320 air show crash was a child who could not unbuckle her seatbelt. Another casualty in that crash was the lady that went back to help her. Children may have better chances of surviving a crash because adults will stop to help a child--it's in our genes.

There are pluses and minuses to being a child. It probably all depends on the particular circumstances of the crash that the child faces.

[Edited 2009-07-01 20:05:15]

[Edited 2009-07-01 20:07:58]

User currently offlineDanfearn77 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2008, 1851 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 6605 times:

Quoting Aidanoc5793 (Reply 7):

Id have to agree and thats the first thing i thought of. There have been a few cases where adults have been sleep walking and fallen from 4/5 stories high but have survived, because their body is limp because they are asleep. And thats why i agree with you. I imagine children dont fully understand the gravity of the situation and dont tense up as much.

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User currently offlineAirbusA6 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 2295 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6471 times:

Children fit into the seats better too. Being tall, I often find myself too big for the seat, my head 'flopping' over the back of the headrest and my arms and legs flopping into the aisle in a manner which doesn't bode well for my surviveability in a major crash Sad

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User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4785 posts, RR: 24
Reply 15, posted (6 years 11 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6414 times:

Quoting Rikkus67 (Reply 2):
IIRC, JAL 747 crash into terrain. In this case, a young girl was found in a tree. I might have this accident partially confused with another asian carrier crash, so correct me if I am wrong.

Keiko Kawakami was 12 when JL 123 crashed. She survived the crash together with 3 others. One of whom was her mother, I think. All 4 survivors were seated at the extreme rear of the plane.

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