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As this (intentional) 727 crash shows, you can survive
October 1, 2012
Images of a real jetliner crash is included in this USA Today story. It's an intentional crash for the new Discovery Channel program Curiosity, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. In this case, university scientists and international investigators will get a rare second-by-second look at just what happens -- to the jet and to its occupants -- when something goes terribly wrong midflight. This study could improve aviation safety, just as automotive crash-test dummies have for decades led to safer cars and fewer fatalities on the road. Scientists plan to mine the test results for at least a decade, writing reports and sharing the information with government regulators and industry representatives to make the 2.8 billion flights taken worldwide each year a bit safer. Cindy Bir, professor of biomedical engineering at Wayne State University, set up three $150,000 crash-test dummies with 32 sensors on each. Upright dummies near the front and in the back both suffered severe stress to their lower backs, but the braced occupant didn't, she says. "Between the lower-spine issue and the vulnerability of sitting upright and having debris flying around, I think the brace position is still the way to go to prevent injuries," Bir says.