Experts: Stronger planes can mean fewer fatalities

Associated Press

Passengers in plane crashes like the Aeromexico accident – in which no one died – have better chances of survival due to better aircraft construction and safety standards, experts say.

People are now less likely to be trapped by collapsed seats and floors, especially if the plane comes to rest more or less level and the accident occurs on flat ground and at lower speeds, as happened with Tuesday’s crash in northern Mexico.

Survival rates are higher than ever in part because “airplanes are stronger than ever,” said Adrian Young, an air-safety investigator from the Netherlands-based consultancy To70.

Other improvements in recent decades include wider use of materials that burn more slowly and without giving off toxic fumes, and smarter airport layouts that eliminate obstacles near runways.

Authorities in Mexico said there were no fatalities among the 97 passengers and four crew members aboard the Embraer 190 jet that crashed moments after takeoff in Durango, sending plumes of black and gray smoke into the sky. Rescuers took 49 people to hospitals; most of them had minor injuries.

On average, about 56 percent of passengers survive airline accidents in which at least one person is killed.

Takeoff accidents occur on or near the runway, so obstacles on the ground – runway lights, fences, ditches and embankments – can lead to more extensive damage to the plane and increase the risk of an immediate fire, said Harro Ranter, CEO of Aviation Safety Network, which compiles a database on accidents.

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