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Landing/back Of Plane  
User currently offlineflyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 350 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5028 times:
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Hi,

Just a question: Is the landing phase the most accident-prone phase in flight? If so, is the rear of an aeroplane, the least safe spot on a plane?

Thanks!

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offline26point2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 820 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 4871 times:

Anytime you are nearest the ground is the most "dangerous" part of your flight...landing would qualify.

Years ago there was a debate in the media about the "safest" place to sit and it was determined, then, that the back of the plane was safest. This was a typical media assumption made after a couple of accidents where most of the folks who walked away happened to be sitting near the back. AA in Little Rock might have been one of them? I don't recall but someone will remember.


User currently offlineroseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9611 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 4861 times:

Any true aviation expert will tell you that the safest part of the airplane is an aisle seat within 3 rows of an exit, or the emergency exit row itself.

The statistics showing front vs back, left vs right, center vs tail are all based on a sample size that isn't statistically significant since crashes are such a rare event and each one is different. The window seats that are 3/4 of the way back which provide a great view, tend to be the worst when it comes to an evacuation since those people are last off the plane.

[Edited 2013-07-15 12:08:37]


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17030 posts, RR: 67
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4694 times:

Quoting flyenthu (Thread starter):
Is the landing phase the most accident-prone phase in flight?

Take-off and landing tend to be the most accident-prone. Both are close to the ground so there's not a lot of room to maneuver if the fecal matter impacts the rotary air impeller. Both situations are high workload, especially landing.

On take-off you have high power settings, high weights and high fuel load.
On landing you have low power settings, wind influence, often visibility issues.

SlamClick once described taking off and landing as getting on or off a small boat from a pier. If you're on land or on the boat you are fine. It's the transition that is the tricky bit.

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
Years ago there was a debate in the media about the "safest" place to sit and it was determined, then, that the back of the plane was safest. This was a typical media assumption made after a couple of accidents where most of the folks who walked away happened to be sitting near the back.

These "facts" come up regularly in the media.

Quoting roseflyer (Reply 2):
The statistics showing front vs back, left vs right, center vs tail are all based on a sample size that isn't statistically significant since crashes are such a rare event and each one is different.

        



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineflyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 350 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4664 times:
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Thank you for your feedback. I think the Asiana Airlines accident is on my mind and hence my question.

I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?


User currently offlineBraniff747SP From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 2972 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4647 times:

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 4):
Is this a wrong deduction?

Yes, as explained above--there are simply a plethora of factors at work when something happens, so it can't be determined which seat is 'safest'.

Not that it matters, considering that accidents are very rare.



The 747 will always be the TRUE queen of the skies!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17030 posts, RR: 67
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4636 times:

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 4):
I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?

As Braniff747SP says, it is indeed the wrong deduction. All accidents are different. Think of a high speed overrun into an obstacle. Would you rather sit in the front of the rear? What about a fire in a hydraulic system in the wing box?

The aft section may seem more vulnerable because of tailstrike risk on rotation and flare, but tailstrikes hardly ever result in injuries or fatalities.

In order to get the Asiana situation, you have to stall the plane very close to the ground. This does not happen often with airliners.


Expanding on the discussion, if passengers want to minimize risk of injury in a plane, they should expand their views beyond "big accidents". Encounters with severe turbulence are much more common than a crash, with passengers and crew often incurring injury from crashing into things or heavy objects flying around.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineroseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9611 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4632 times:

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 4):
I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?

Yes it is a wrong deduction. You never know which end hits first. The first class cabin on united 232 in Sioux city was the deadliest section. You never know, so pick a seat by the exit.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently onlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9945 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4148 times:
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Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
Anytime you are nearest the ground is the most "dangerous" part of your flight...landing would qualify.
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 3):
SlamClick once described taking off and landing as getting on or off a small boat from a pier. If you're on land or on the boat you are fine. It's the transition that is the tricky bit.

In one of my first aerospace engineering classes, the professor told us (approx), "Airplanes like to be in the air; that's what they're designed for. Landing and takeoff are simply necessities."

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 4):
I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?

Well, why do you think they are "most vulnerable"?



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlineSAAFNAV From South Africa, joined Mar 2010, 271 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4124 times:

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 4):

I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 8):

Well, why do you think they are "most vulnerable"?

Good question. The nose normally arrives at the scene of the accident first.
I guess the wing box area will alway be my first choice. Closest to the exits, and structurally on of the stronger parts.

Erich



On-board Direction Consultant
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7702 posts, RR: 21
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4119 times:
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Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 9):
I guess the wing box area will alway be my first choice. Closest to the exits, and structurally on of the stronger parts.

Is there potentially a greater risk of fire in that location though?



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlinee38 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3738 times:

Quoting flyenthu (reply 4), I feel that because the rear of the plane is "most vulnerable" during the most crucial stages of flight- take off and landing, it makes the back of the plane the most unsafe area, in the rare event of an accident. Is this a wrong deduction?"

I'm not sure why you think the rear of the airplane is the most vulnerable during takeoff and landing. If you are thinking about tailstrikes, those are very rare.

Your question, "Is this a wrong deduction," well, yes, sort of, but every accident is different, so it all depends on the situation, i.e. fire, structural damage, etc.

In the past, conventional wisdom dictated that the rear was actually safer than the front of the aircraft because the energy the aircraft experienced during an abrupt stop (i.e. the airplane impacting something in front) would be absorbed from front to rear resulting in less "concussion" to people seated in the back.

However, if there is fire, depending on where it occurs, the rear may not be the safest part of the airplane. Years ago, when the left engine of a Delta MD-88 separated during the initial part of the takeoff roll, the casualties were in the rear, adjacent to the engine.

It all depends, but when I fly, I normally try to be seated toward the rear of the aircraft.

e38


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21442 posts, RR: 53
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3650 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
Encounters with severe turbulence are much more common than a crash, with passengers and crew often incurring injury from crashing into things or heavy objects flying around.

And in such a case you can influence your risk primarily by keeping your seat belt on at all times when you're in your seat and having it properly adjusted.


User currently offlinebristolflyer From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 2290 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 3622 times:

Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 9):
I guess the wing box area will alway be my first choice. Closest to the exits, and structurally on of the stronger parts.

I always thought that but then I learned that the only significant injury in the BA 777 LHR short landing a few years back was someone who got severe leg injuries caused by the landing gear being pushed up into the cabin. Maybe this was a one-off, maybe not.



Fortune favours the brave
User currently offlineflyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 350 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3362 times:
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Quoting Klaus (Reply 12):

Yes, I was hinting at tailstrikes. Thanks for all of your wonderful input! It has been very helpful.

I take QR 295 from CCU to DOH and then 77 from DOH to IAH tomorrow. I am very excited! My onward trip was alright. I'll post a trip report once I am back home.


User currently offlineplebbin From Canada, joined Jul 2013, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3316 times:

There are two parts to the answer of your question: 1) survivability upon impact and deceleration; and 2) survival after plane has come to a stop.

Most of the comments are addressed to the first part. Statistically speaking it doesn't matter much where you are seated for part 1.

For Part 2, it is entirely a different answer. There have been many accidents where passengers survived only to die in the subsequent fire and smoke in the cabin. From past incidents, NTSB has shown that your survival depends on how close you are seated to an exit. From a review of their reports, you will want to be within 4 rows of an exit and don't forget the exits in the very rear. People forget there are exits behind the back cabin wall and NTSB has shown that those exits don't get used very often.

WIth all of that said, incidents that have at least one fatality are extremely rare. In my mind, it really doesn't matter where you sit. But if it makes you feel better, sit close to a exit if you can.


User currently offline26point2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 820 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3290 times:

Some mandated "safety" training years ago lodged a few memorable nuggets in my head about passenger post-crash survivability:

-Always have yours shoes on for take-off and landing. You will need them in case of evac.

-Leather clothing is very fire resistant...blue jeans good too. Nylon stockings or anything synthetic can easily melt onto your skin.

-If you can't sit in an exit row count the number of seat-rows between you and the nearest exit ahead and behind. Easier to find the exit by "feel" if needed.

-Compact personal smoke hoods are available. Not sure how the TSA looks at it but thinking it would get a pass.

-Move away from the wreck toward the nose of the plane if possible (or upwind) and in plain sight.

That's what I recall. I must say this training was many years ago but still seems relevant.


User currently offlinee38 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 1 month 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2905 times:

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 16, "Always have yours shoes on for take-off and landing. You will need them in case of evac."

I strongly agree with this, and we are not talking about "flip flops" or "sandals" that you slip on. While these may be very comfortable, they can easily come off during an abrupt abort or evacuation.

When we say keep your shoes on, we mean regular shoes that you tie or slip on (like an oxford or loafer or other type of casual shoe) or if you must wear sandals or slippers, at least wear ones that have some kind of a strap that will help keep them on your feet.

e38


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31679 posts, RR: 56
Reply 18, posted (1 year 1 month 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2651 times:

The landing phase is the most critical phase of flight.....undoubtly........

The rear of the cabin is the safest spot on an airliner but depends also on the type of accident/incident involved.
The ELT/CVR/FDR is located around here too.



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