Biggest Surprise of Jet Crashes Often Is Survival Rate


After an Air France jet skidded off a runway last week in Toronto and burst into flames, all 309 passengers got out alive. The amazing thing is, their good fortune is not that unusual. Since 1999, passengers, crew and pilots have walked away from commercial jet crashes around the world at least a half-dozen times, with few injuries or deaths, reports the New York Times.

Of the 26 passenger jet accidents that took place from 1983 to 2000 in the United States, 1,525 of the 2,736 passengers and crew, or 56 percent, survived, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. It’s hard to generalize about why some crashes are deadly and others not, said Arnold Barnett, professor of statistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has spent years studying plane crashes. The speed of the airplane, its weight and the angle at which it hits the ground – those and other factors could make the difference. Still, Mr. Barnett said, “as long as the landing is somewhat controlled, and doesn’t take place in an irreversible plunge, it does seem like we have a very high survival rate.”


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