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Experts not drawing conclusions from Schiphol crash

Aviation safety experts are expressing caution over suggestions that the high survival rate in Wednesday’s Turkish Airlines crash outside Amsterdam and last month’s non-fatal jetliner ditching in the Hudson River are the result of new aircraft technology that makes it more likely passengers will walk away from a crash.

“I would say it’s a happy coincidence, but nevertheless a coincidence,” said Gideon Ewers of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations. “There are so many factors that influence survival in an air crash that it’s hard to generalize really — what angle you meet the earth, the vertical speed when you hit something solid, whether you get a fire.”

Modern aircraft have a number of new safety features to protect passengers and crew in a crash, including stronger seating to minimize the risk of seats breaking away on impact; flame retentive fuel additives; or new plastics and foams which are less likely to release noxious fumes in a fire. However, experts stress that the circumstances in the Amsterdam and New York crashes were very different and it’s too early to draw any conclusions.

“I think that it’s pure coincidence,” says Sydney Dekker, of Lund University School of Aviation in Sweden. “The base line of accidents is too small. We don’t have enough to really draw any statistical conclusions. That’s very good news.”


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