The Discovery Channel intentionally crashed a camera-equipped Boeing 757 in the desert to determine what happens to passengers when a plane crashes.
The test crash found that passengers who adopt the safety posture — with their head between their knees covered by their hands — as well as those near exit rows are more likely to survive a crash.
In a standard commercial airliner outfitted with 38 cameras and 15 dummies, a crew flew to 6,000 feet above the Mexican desert before beginning a rapid descent. After four other members of the flight crew bailed out, Capt. Jim Bob Slocum parachuted from the jet a few miles before the impact area, leaving the crash landing to a remote-control pilot, who dropped the plane from the sky at 1,500 feet per minute, much faster than traditional landings.
On impact, the cockpit flipped backwards and onto the left wing, crushing the first eight rows of the cabin. One of the biggest dangers for the remaining passengers would have been flying objects — luggage, scraps of metal, and unbelted passengers.
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The crash aimed to examine the safety features of jet airliners, and was painstakingly planned as part of Discovery TV's new show Curiosity. It offered scientists and regulators a second-by-second look of what a plane crash looks like, and how a jet's safety features perform, from dozens of angles.