How Did All Passengers Survive the Burning Plane of Japan Airlines?
In a shocking incident that left the world in disbelief, Japan Airlines Flight 516 caught fire during its landing at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport after colliding with a Coast Guard plane, yet miraculously, all 379 people on board survived the ordeal. The Airbus A350 was engulfed in flames, but the combination of modern safety features and the crew’s exceptional training played a crucial role in averting what could have been a disastrous outcome.
The Terrifying Incident
The incident occurred on Tuesday night as the flight collided with a Coast Guard aircraft en route to provide earthquake disaster relief. Dramatic footage from inside the plane captured the chaos as smoke filled the cabin, passengers evacuated, and flames engulfed the engine. Despite the aircraft being consumed by fire later, the evacuation was successful, and all passengers escaped alive.
Safety Features and Crew Training
Graham Braithwaite, an expert on flight safety at Cranfield University, emphasized that the design of the plane and the high levels of staff training at Japan Airlines significantly contributed to preventing fatalities. He highlighted that safety rules require aircraft to demonstrate evacuation within 90 seconds, but this doesn’t consider the panic that ensues during real incidents. The performance of the crew in evacuating passengers was commendable, with no fatalities and only 17 passengers sustaining minor injuries.
Aviation Experts Praise Crew and Passengers
Aviation security expert Jeffrey Price called the evacuation a “miracle,” attributing it to the extraordinary actions of both the crew and passengers. He emphasized the passengers’ ability to stay calm and act swiftly in evacuating the plane before it was completely engulfed in flames. Price underscored the critical minutes passengers and flight crew are on their own before emergency responders can arrive, making the successful evacuation even more remarkable.
Durability of Modern Aircraft
The incident also showcased the durability of modern aircraft and their well-thought-out designs. A fire on board has long been considered a significant threat due to highly combustible fuel and flammable materials. Aircraft cabins, like that of the Airbus A350, are designed with special materials to prevent rapid fire spread and the generation of poisonous fumes. Emergency exits are strategically placed for accessibility, and lighting guides passengers during poor visibility conditions.
Luck, Aircraft Design, and Past Lessons
While the aircraft’s design played a pivotal role, luck also played a part, influenced by factors like the extent of fuselage damage and the firefighters’ efforts. Graham Braithwaite highlighted the evolution of aircraft safety, with lessons learned from past incidents like the 1985 Manchester Airport disaster prompting a rethink. Japan Airlines, having experienced the worst single aircraft disaster in 1985, has since dedicated itself to passenger safety with intense training and a strong safety culture.
In summary, the successful evacuation of Japan Airlines Flight 516 amidst a fiery landing highlights the culmination of meticulous safety measures, crew training, and a stroke of luck. The incident serves as a testament to the advancements in aviation safety that have evolved over the years, turning what could have been a catastrophe into a remarkable story of survival.