Monday, June 25, 2012

Hard Landing in Narita Caught On Tape

An ANA airliner at Beijing Airport
Much of what we know about crash survivability feels highly theoretical until a caught-on-camera event like the one last week at Tokyo's Narita Airport. Would that the hull had done as well as the 193 passengers who were safely strapped into their seats.

ANA Flight 953 from Beijing made a landing that went like this; right gear down, nose gear down, back in the air, nose gear down, main gear follows as the Boeing 767-300 bounced its way down runway 16R and the airport camera recorded it all.



Experienced pilots are weighing in on whether the problem was with landing configuration, winds, pilot training, all of the above, or something else entirely. The Japan Transport Safety Board will be investigating. Flight Global reports an ANA spokeswoman said she did not know how long the ten-year-old airplane would be out of service. The video shows damage in the form of warps and dimples on the fuselage.

One thing's for certain, the fact that all on board the airplane were uninjured is testament to advances in cabin survivability.

I bring this up because last month, while writing a story for The New York Times about whether present testing is sufficient to assure that airplane seats will hold up under the burden of today's heavier travelers, some people dismissed the issue as meaningless. "In an air accident, everybody dies," they say.  The notion that all air accidents are non-survivable is a persistent myth.

I can think of many recent mishaps in which the damage was confined to the airplane. In our digital age the videos quickly became You Tube sensations; Qantas Flight 32's uncontained engine failure, JetBlue Flight 292's landing gear problem, (one of several) the collision of an Air France A380 and with Delta regional jet at JFK airport.




These videos and others like them make for great television, but they should bring home the message keeping passengers safe is no accident.

8 comments:

Nikos said...

Let's hope that ANA treat their Dreamliners to smoother touchdowns - plastic would probably shatter rather than warping and dimpling!!

Unknown said...

I'm sorry to tell you Nikos that ANA has already dinged their new 787. Read about it here. http://christinenegroni.blogspot.com/2011/10/dreamliner-that-nightmares-are-made-of.html

Jim Blaszczak said...

Without knowing the facts it would be impossible to comment on the cause of this unfortunate landing. In the context of that old saying though, everyone walked off, however they don't get to use the airplane again (for a while).

Thanks for helping us all remember the most important fact of all landings, there are no "do-overs".

Anonymous said...

"plastic"? "probably"? I'm sorry, but be careful because a lot of people trust Christine and her site and when they see things like that they lose confidence in the extremely high level of safety,with a huge emphasis being on testing, that we LIVE in this industry. Boeing has done the testing and the composites are stronger than the metal of yore. They would stake the company on nothing less.

Nikos said...

Dear Anonymous

I don't believe that composites absorb energy in the same way as metal. That does not imply that they are less "strong" or less safe.

I speak from experience as someone who has had to repair composite components on brand X aero engines....

Jim Blaszczak said...

There is probably no better example of the phrase "50 years of tradition, hampered by progress" than aviation.

I have never seen a group of people more resistant to change than pilots, unless of course THEY come up with the idea.

Jim Blaszczak said...

There is probably no better example of the phrase "50 years of tradition, hampered by progress" than aviation.

I have never seen a group of people more resistant to change than pilots, unless of course THEY come up with the idea.

Cedarglen said...

I guess we've heard it more than a fefw times... If the set up and approache are not correct stable in ALL measures, GO AROUND. No pilot makes a perfect approach every time. The smart ones Go Around and the dumb on ones continue, often damaging th eir airplanes - or their passengers. Those folks survived becasue Boeing makes strong airplanes (AirBus as well) not because the pilots were skilled (they were not) or because of luck. If t he pilots had been paying attention to the details, they would have Gone Around before the first contact with terra firma.