Two dead in San Fran plane crash

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An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul to San Francisco, with 307 people onboard, has crashed on landing killing at least two people and injuring 180 more.

The circumstances surrounding the crash are still unclear, although a number of passengers have given their recollection of the final moments before the impact which until a full investigation is completed provided some indication of what may have occurred.

Speaking with CNN, a passenger, Elliott Stone, said that “Right when it appeared to coast for the landing, … (he) sped up, like the pilot knew he was short and then the back end just hit, and flies up in the air, and everybody’s head goes up to the ceiling. And then it just kind of drifts for a little bit, for a good 300 yards and then tips over. Fire starts”.

Witnesses to the crash reported the plane approached the airport at an unusual angle with the tail hitting the ground before bouncing down the runway.

One passenger reported to the media that the top of the plane collapsed on impact, causing the overhead luggage compartments to fall, injuring passengers.

Read more from The Age.

Flying still the safest way to travel

Last year saw the safest year in aviation since 1945 with 23 deadly accidents from 33.4 million flights. The San Francisco incident is the first airline crash in the United States in the last four and a half years, an amazing record considering the number of flights in, around and out each day.

What stands out for me is that almost every time you hear of a deadly plane accident, it involves a lesser known carrier flying older, less well maintained planes. Using the American carriers as an example, it has been more than 10 years since a major domestic carrier was involved in a deadly accident. This is a staggering statistic.

Studies out of the United States have shown that up to 40 per cent of the population have some degree of anxiety concerning flying, while 6.5 per cent have such a fear of flying that it keeps them completly grounded.

According to professor of statistics at M.I.T, Arnold Barnett, flying has become so reliable that a traveller could fly every day for 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash.

I am one of those who suffer from anxiety when taking off on a plane, an anxiety which may have been caused by watching too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation. Through flying more often, developing breathing techniques and reading about how incredibly safe flying actually is, I have been able to lower my anxiety levels, although serious turbulence does still make me grab the armrests incredibly hard!

Are you a frequent flyer? Do you experience anxiety and how do you overcome it for each flight?

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Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).
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28 Comments

Total Comments: 28
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    After hearing the details from the Flight Recorder etc on the ABC this morning, it seem it was caused by Pilot error. Short of the air strip, too low, too slow and probably too casual. If it ends up with only 2 dead out of a total 307, from a totaly destroyed Plane it will be an incredible result. The pilot should be restricted to hang gliding for the rest of his life.

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      Young Simmo: I like your new picture, absolutely gorgeous, nothing like a couple of pretty pets.

      Years ago when travelling more frequently, flying on those small planes to reach islands such as Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Barrier Reef etc. was a bit nerve wracking. There are lots of small plane and helicopter crashes which don’t fall into the statistics for larger planes. I used to have a friend who did loss assessing on helicopters and the places (down ravines and cliffs to get to the wreck) were treacherous to say the least. However, I’ve never felt really anxious on a large plane. I read some statistics some time ago that said “it is 6 x safer by plane than travelling by car and 2 x safer by plane than travelling by train. However when measured by fatalities bus travel is the safest form of transport.

      Young Simmo just on an entirely different matter I was looking this morning at further postings on the Ed Husic/Koran opinions and read your lengthy post regarding an e-mail “A German’s view on Islam”. If I see something like this I usually go to the Google for clarification. This is what I read:

      “HOAX: A German’s View on Islam:
      Published on World Truth by Scott Morgan on 10th June, 2012 at 12.48 p.m.
      Dr. Emanuel Tanay is real and a holocaust survivor but he neither wrote this article, nor is he German.
      In fact the article “A German’s View on Islam” is an opinion piece that appeared on the website “Arutz Sheva – Israel National News”, penned by one Paul E. Marek, and published there on March 18th, 2007, under the title of “Why The Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant” – click for original version of article.
      Dr. Emmanuel Tanay, the son of Jewish dentists, was born in Russian-occupied Vilna in 1928, which is now part of Lithuania, according to the personal account of his life in a Polish ghetto during the Holocaust. Wikipedia also has something about him.
      Later on, Marek’s article was apparently altered and posted on several read and comment boards on the World Wide Web. Some altered versions include Marek as the author and cite Tanay as the original forwarder of the story.”
      What made me think about it was his name Emmanuel Tanay didn’t really sound like a German name, so I had a look. It’s so hard to find the truth these days.

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      Thanks for that Egyptian, these days it is such a clever world you can’t really believe anything. Especially when you look at some of the tricks they get up to on TV advertising. As for that photo I took it off of this years calender, and I reckon the Shepherd is saying, ” You take one more step forward, and I will Eeeeeerrrrrr kiss you”

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      lovely new pic young simmo,

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      I heard you the first time Catsahoy, He, He, He.

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      I will never again watch The Bolt Report on Sundays. Bolt was trying to get Ed Husic , a thorough gentleman, into a big argument, but Mr. Husic was having none of it. Bolt is such a pain in the arse who is totally against the Labor Party. He is the typical Liberal who only knows how to denigrate everything Labor stands for. I also have no time for Tony Abbott, watching him being interviewed on Channel 2 last evening was a total joke. He couldn’t give one sensible reply to the questions asked. I saw in the paper Liberals want to bring in the Green Army to get young people to work . That’s a joke, can you imagine young people who have never held down a job for any length of time, get out of bed early in the morning and go and clean up around dirty rivers and and weeding bushland?

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    I’m with you Drew, hate take offs, and not so keen on landing. Once I’m in the air I’m fine. It takes more than this to stop me flying though.

    We are fortunate here in Australia, as we have a great record when it comes to airline safety.
    I tend to think that when you look at the number of flights to accident ratio, there is very little to worry about in most of the world.

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    ‘Back in the day’ I was in the aviation ‘scene’ and used to spend some time reading crash critiques etc but, that and a couple of ‘experiences’ started to make me slightly apprehensive about flying. Stopped reading about it, grew older and more philosophical and accepted the stats were definitely in the passengers favour and the clincher was a wee dram in the passengers lounge prior to boarding and now I love air travel 😉 I have heard of incidents on certain airlines where it was suggested that declaring ‘a go around’ if the approach wasn’t good enough would be considered a ‘loss of face’ by certain pilots and so there is/was (?) a proclivity to press on with the landing with hairy results sometimes. Just saying 🙂

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    Reppie, you say, “You hate take offs, and not so keen on landing”, that should really be the other way around. I did a small amount of flying ( Like 85 hrs at Restricted Private Pilot level) back in the 1980s at Kalgoorlie Aero Club. My assessment on Take Offs and Landings is like this. Taking off is a piece of cake, degree of difficulty say (1), landing degree of difficulty, depending on conditions can be anywhere from (10) to (1,000,000). Come on you people with more experience than me, jump in and refine my comment, I can take it.

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      Like I sez…..long ago etc, but the breakdown of major ‘events’ used to be a higher percentage took place in the first 15 minutes of flight, lesser percentage in the final 10 minutes and the rest in cruise. Generalisation but roughly right. BUT….go ahead and enjoy it 😀 It sure as hell beats walking. I love and have enjoyed all sorts of ‘travel modes’ and still can’t get enough of it. I suppose it doesn’t help but I do STILL advocate risk taking ‘cos when it’s over and you’re safe again you REALLY feel alive. Yes, I have Irish roots 😉

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      I have never flown a plane but I have always been under the impression that a take off would be a lot easier than the landing. I am not keen on the landing but the take off is a piece of cake. I like it when everything suddenly stops shaking and rattling. I hate the thud as the plane hits the tarmac. It seems like all hell breaks loose and I am quite relieved when it starts to slow down and just taxis in.

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    Odds on being involved in an aircraft “crash” are significantly better than winning a major lottery prize, but we still buy lottery tickets and hope to win !! If you fly regularly, as do I, then one has to be philosophical and assume it will always happen to someone else.

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    I think it is that feeling when you take off and land, of your stomach being several rows of seats behind that irks me Young Simmo – also if the plane drops while in mid air, as it did once heading from Lismore to Sydney, in totally rotten weather, rain bucketting down, blowing a gale etc. When we landed, my then husband asked so nicely if he could have his hand back, as it was turning blue!

    I have to admit, I have indulged in a grog or three to give me the necessary courage ( or numbness) in order to actually get in the plane in the first place, in my earlier days of flying!

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    As a bottom line conclusion, I expect that Young Simmo is correct in saying that it was probably pilot error. Reporters turned to Cpt Sullenberger, who wrote himself into aviation folklore when he landed on the Hudson river in 2009, and he said that landing at San Francisco had its own unique problems because of ambient conditions. He mad special mention of the difficulty in accurately judging height because of the surrounding scenery.

    From statements from some passengers and the fact that the plane’s first point of contact was with a concrete wall on the approach to the runway, one can theorise that he was coming in too low and even possibly at an inappropriate angle. It is reported that in the final seconds, he brought the nose up and attempted to accelerate which suggests to me that he may have been attempting to abort the landing and go around again.

    Given the approach speed and mass of the aircraft travelling at perhaps 180 kts , the fact that the tail section suffered the initial impact is not surprising, and here I was always thinking that the tail section was inherently safer in the event of a crash.

    It has since been reported that the pilot was fully accredited on the aircraft type and had been for some 4 years but he was short on the experience of landing at SF. No doubt the enquiry will reveal what really happened but it will hardly explain why there were so few casualties. When you see pictures of the wreck, it is well nigh unbelievable!

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      Interesting points made, however regardless of the terrain San Fransisco is a controlled airport and the commercial flight would have been on instrument landing with ILS approach therefore terrain knowledge would not be much of a factor. It is likely there will be other issues like instrument failure or Pilot error in setting or reading the instruments.

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    Planes go too high and too fast. I’m built for comfort not speed 🙂

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      hi student, you sound like my kind of person, feet on the ground, if we were meant to fly ,god would have given us wings,lol

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      CATSAHOY….What is wrong with your computer?? It’s suffering a case of stuttering. Better call in the Geek Doctors.

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      And it certainly is not comfortable flying in planes. Not too mention the contribution to global warming. The oxygen level in planes is what gives me anxiety,now I don’t fly. I prefer holidays in Australia and driving so I can stop when and how I want and get fresh air as much as I need.

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    I see no significant difference now in flying in a plane compared to traveling in a train, particularly in a high speed train or even poorly maintained trains or train tracks.
    I see the fear of flying largely relating to thinking that we have absolutely no control – we are totally dependent on the competency of the pilot(s) and in the commitment of the airline company to pay for adequate maintenance of each aircraft.
    In that regard it is similar to traveling on trains.
    We think we have more control driving our cars because we are at least partly in control of driving and in ensuring that we maintain at least the safety components.
    However, when one measures the risks one would find that , on average, we are nowhere near as safe at driving a car than most pilots of reputable airlines are of flying an aeroplane. And don’t forget that pilots are overwhelmingly interested in their own safety as well.
    The other thing that scares people is that when air disasters do happen many people are affected at once but when one considers that the number of people that die in car accidents in Australia in one year is over a thousand. I suspect that the average number of Australians killed flying in one year is much lower.
    But, it also means that the number of people affected by a single fatal car accident is much less that the number of people affected by a plane crash. And that is one reason why it feels more scary.

    Do we stop using any type of transport? We can choose to do that because we live in a democratic country. After all if one really analyses crash statistics, we would never go out the door as a pedestrian or as a cyclist or as a driver or as a passenger in private or use public transport.
    Then again, I would prefer to put the risk in perspective.
    If we drive an unsafe car we will increase the risk of harm.
    If we fly with an unsafe airline (using old or poorly maintained aircraft) then the risk is also increased.

    I prefer to weigh up the risk and perhaps have some risk, rather than experience a more boring life with no risk at all and probably still die prematurely for some other reason.

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