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An all things aviation blog

Several weeks ago Asiana flight 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport. Of the 307 people on-board there were only three deaths. Of those three that died, 16 year old Ye Mengyaun died from essentially being run-over by a fire truck enroute to the scene.

Airport personnel frequently practice fire rescue on commercial airplanes. Those fire trainers, often repurposed airliners, are frequently visible in some disused corner of the airport. Due to the nature of their training, personnel do not have a large number of people running around to really simulate an airplane crash. Thirty years ago this made sense, back then the prospect of surviving an airplane crash was slim-to-none. Now however, if the airplane makes to the airfield, or never left, the probability of survival is quite high. The highest it has ever been actually. If a plane crashes on an airfield, rescue crews can expect to see large numbers of both ambulatory and nonambulatory passengers. So training for both ground staff and and aircrews needs to change.

Aircrews are currently trained to get the passengers off the plane as quickly as possible. The rule is that any commercial aircraft of any size has to be evacuated within 90 seconds. However, as far as I know there is no training for the next 90 seconds. After the evacuation there is now a large number of people panicking  and rescue crews showing up who are just as amped up as the passengers. That alone is a recipe for disaster.

The solution to this problem isn’t easy. Every crash is different. However, aircrews should be expect to provide some crowd control after evacuation, and tell passengers move to the back, front, port, or aft. There should also be pre-arranged ways of communicating this to the rescue staff. This would insure the passengers do not interfere with rescue personnel and prevent future deaths.

Happy Flying!


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