8 AUGUST 2016
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The death of a firefighter in the Emirates accident at Dubai International Airport was tragic but no one needs to be told how much worse things could have been. There were 282 passengers and 18 crew on the Boeing 777-300 and all were reported to have escaped with their lives, though 13 people were slightly injured.
Until quite recently, this would have been considered an accident unsurvivable by anybody aboard, let alone all 300, and the reasons it turned out differently bear repeating.
Jack Stewart, who writes on transportation for the online news service Wired, summed it up: “Investigators are now working to discover what brought down Emirates flight EK521,” he writes. “Photos indicate the landing gear didn’t deploy. What is already clear is that everything went right with the evacuation.
“Unsurprisingly, passengers spoke of a terrifying, unexpected trauma. The 18 crew members may have been surprised, but they – like the plane they command – were ready for the worst.”
Stewart goes on to quote Stephen Trimble, of Flight Global, who said: “Crashworthiness is an aeronautical engineering concept as important as airworthiness, and the 777 has had a sterling record for survivable crashes.
“It’s built into the voluminous FAA regulations any aircraft must meet before entering service: Along with using flame-resistant materials wherever possible, the likes of Boeing and Airbus must prove their aircraft can be fully evacuated within 90 seconds – using just half the exits.”
Stewart acknowledges that the procedures to test this may be flawed – volunteer “passengers” in the tests are relaxed and aware of what they are going to be asked to do; real ones will be panicking.
That, he says, means the cabin staff are crucial for an effective evacuation and, as Emirates has said, its crew, who are subject to an intense five-weeks of training, in this case executed their procedures professionally, and left the plane only once their 282 passengers were safe.
It really is a case of job well done.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Edward Harrison, Yeovil, United Kingdom
Should something be done to stop people taking belongings out of a crashed plane? Of Course. By locking the bins or making a criminal offence? No. People react to stress in all sorts of ways. Some will go for the bin whatever and a locked bin will slow things even more. My suggestion? Stope the airlines charging for checked baggage, make them liable for loss of and damage to all checked bags and charge for cabin bags. Oh and start a campaign for proplr to have shoes on and valuables in the pockets for all take offs and landings; at least part of the reason why people go for their cabin bags is they contain items they consider to valuable to lose.
Michael Gee, London
The solution is obvious (and relatively cheap to install). Before landing the overhead bins should be locked by the cabin crew who would inform passengers as part of the drill. They would be released when the aircraft is at the gate, rather like on a car when the doors click.
Marshall Morris, Wales
Excellent result but I was appalled that someone was capturing it all on a mobile phone including passengers retrieving their cabin baggage from overhead lockers. These idiots obviously didn't listen to the safety briefing.
Robert Shaw, Uk
Once again passengers take time to take hand luggage with them, then throw them down the slides hitting previous 'escapees'. Time criminal action was taken against such people for endangering passengers.