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Miracle of Flight 358: All 309 survive

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    Jet skids off runway into ditch, breaks up without warning during storm in Toronto

    By ROB GILLIES and BETH DUFF-BROWN
    Associated Press
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    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, ms sans-serif][size=-2]• 309 survive plane crash in Canada
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    [/size][/font]TORONTO - All 309 passengers and crew aboard an Air France jet survived a dramatic runway crash by sliding down escape chutes from the burning plane and scrambling up a ravine during a pounding thunderstorm.

    The plane skidded off the runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport after landing at around 4 p.m. Tuesday in a heavy rain storm accompanied by lightning and strong winds, said Steve Shaw, a vice president of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. The Airbus A340 slid down a slope into a wooded area that runs along Highway 401, Canada's busiest thoroughfare.

    "It's nothing short of a miracle," Canada's Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said after learning everyone on board Air France flight 358 from Paris had survived.

    Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta today said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash but promised the airline would be "totally transparent" in any investigation. He said Air France bought the aircraft new on fall 1999. It was last serviced July 15 and had logged 28,418 flight-hours and 3,711 takeoffs and landings, he said.

    Spinetta said the plane's co-pilot reported that the plane had sufficient fuel at the landing and that the runway was long enough.

    Air France said 22 people were treated for minor injuries, though Shaw said 43 were hurt. Passengers said some of the injured had broken arms and legs.

    The first sign of trouble came minutes before landing when the pilot aborted an initial attempt to land the plane because of the storm and powerful winds. About a minute before the plane landed, as it approached the airport for a second time, the lights in the cabin went out, said passenger Olivier Dubois.

    "Just before touching ground, it was all black in the plane, there was no more light, nothing," he said.

    As the wheels touched down, passengers — their nerves frayed by the darkness inside and outside the cabin and flashes of lightning — burst into applause.

    But then the jet thudded on landing, skidded off the runway and burst into flames, passengers recounted.

    "It happened so quickly; it was a little bit like being in a movie," said Gwen Dunlop of Toronto, who was returning from a vacation in France.

    Dunlop said some passengers went down emergency chutes, while others just jumped out on their own.

    "We were all trying to go up a hill; it was all mud and we lost our shoes. We were just scrambling, people with children."

    Pouring rain, lightning and thunder added to the drama.

    The federal agency Environment Canada had issued a severe weather alert earlier in the day, saying its radar showed a rapidly developing thunderstorm with winds of about 60 mph. Shaw said the airport had been under a "red alert" since noon, which indicates potential for lightning, but does not prevent planes from landing or taking off.

    Moments after the crash , a portion of the plane's wing could be seen jutting from trees as smoke and flames poured from the middle of its broken fuselage. A row of emergency vehicles lined up behind the wreck, and a fire truck sprayed the flames with water.

    Some of the 297 passengers and 12 crew members who evacuated reached the nearby highway crowded with rush hour travelers.

    "We located the co-pilot on Highway 401," said police Sgt. Glyn Griffiths.

    Lauren Langille, 15, was flying back from France with an exchange student who was coming to live with her Toronto family.

    "There was a lot of panic, but the flight attendants were really good at calming you down," said Langille, who was greeted by her father carrying helium balloons.

    But Dunlop said the staff did not handle the emergency well.

    "One of the hostesses said, 'You can calm down, it's OK,' and yet the plane was on fire and smoke was pouring in," Dunlop told The AP. "I don't like to criticize, but the staff did not seem helpful or prepared."

    Several hours after the crash, passengers in red blankets were taken on buses to the airport Sheraton hotel to meet relatives and friends. Some were distressed that they had to go through customs before they were reunited.

    The accident was the first crash landing of an Airbus A340 in its 13 years of commercial service.

    Chris Yates, an aviation specialist with Jane's Transport magazine, said the A340 has a very good safety record and weather appeared to be the cause of the accident.

    "You can never account for weather," Yates said. "A thunderstorm can happen anywhere — it comes down to the judgment of the air traffic controller and the skill of the pilot to determine whether it's appropriate to land or to divert elsewhere."

    The most serious plane crash at Pearson, Canada's busiest airport, was more than 30 years ago. In 1970 an Air Canada DC-8 jet, en route from Montreal to Los Angeles, went down north of the airport, killing all 109 people aboard.

    The last major jet crash in North America was on Nov. 12, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 587 lost part of its tail and plummeted into a New York City neighborhood, killing 265 people. Safety investigators concluded that the crash was caused by the pilot moving the rudder too aggressively.

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3293778
  2. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    I know many of you have heard about this. But I still found this to be amazing. I fly alot and the only time I get nervous is on takeoffs and landings. I really try to be where I can see the wings, because of compartments and stuff that are supposed to move when landing. So I'm really happy for the survivors of this crash. Cuz this could've gone really bad.
  3. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Yes I saw this on the news this morning and it truly was pretty amazing that everyone got out of that plane in time.

    It was really burning pretty good from the images they were showing.

    Credit the crew for helping getting those people out so quickly.
  4. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    I read one account where a passenger said the crew didn't help at all.....must have been Badattitude ;)
  5. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    That's actually in the article above. I look at it like this. If he made it out alive, then they must've done something right. :cool:
  6. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    I agree any landing you walk away from is a good one IMO
  7. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    The crew is told to calm the passengers because the calmer they are, the easier it is to get them to listen and do what you're telling them to do. Everyone is panicking in a situation like that. Of course oxygen masks didn't drop because the plane had no power .. which is strange because they have emergency backups.

    However, the bottom line is every single passenger made it out alive in that firey crash, so the crew did their jobs.
  8. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    I agree wholeheartedly
  9. Dogwood

    Dogwood New Member

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    Why would the oxygen masks deploy?

    The cabin altitude = outside pressure altitude at touchdown. Oxygen masks are pretty much useless in that situation.
  10. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    Because the cabin was filling up with smoke! Most people that die in fires die from smoke inhalation long before their bodies burn.
    "One of the hostesses said, 'You can calm down, it's OK,' and yet the plane was on fire and smoke was pouring in," Dunlop told The AP. "I don't like to criticize, but the staff did not seem helpful or prepared."
  11. Dogwood

    Dogwood New Member

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    Yea, it was filling up with smoke. After it skidded off the runway.

    Do you think sucking on an oxygen mask is important in that instance? Evacuating the aircraft is what's important.
  12. Reality

    Reality Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually, the first thing you want to do is make sure you can breathe because without being able to breathe, you won't make it to the exit points. Even if you are using the masks as you are going down the aisle, you have to remember that any time you try to get a large number of people through a limited number of exists, there will be lines and it will take time.

    So, as I said, with the cabin filling up with smoke, it's strange they didn't have power backups to let the masks drop. I am not siding with the guy complaining, because everyone got off the plane alive .. I'm just saying it was strange and could have had deadly consequences because they did not drop. Luckily, this plane was landing (lower amount of fuel) than had it been trying to take off and this happen.
  13. Dogwood

    Dogwood New Member

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    Actually, you are wrong.

    Think about it.

    The masks deploy under 2 instances. The first is if the cabin altitude exceeds 14,000 feet. Obviously, that wasn't a problem here. The second is if they are manually deployed from the cockpit. I can assure you that there is no Airbus checklist that advocates the deployment of the oxygen masks during an Emergency Evacuation. But if they wanted to, they would have to have done it after the aircraft had come to a complete stop, on fire.

    So let's say the O2 masks deploy and 300 people simultaneously sit in their seats, pull the tube and wait for the flow of oxygen to commence...just to be sure they can breathe while the cabin fills with smoke.

    I don't think so.

    The reason those people are alive is because the cabin crew did an excellent job evacuating that aircraft in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. And the prompt response time of the emergency crews (52 seconds).

    But you go ahead and work on that oxygen mask. I'll be heading for the exit.
  14. blindzebra

    blindzebra Well-Known Member

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    Actually do you want oxygen flowing on a burning plane?;)
  15. Dogwood

    Dogwood New Member

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    Doesn't matter, there's a much bigger ignition source inside the wings. Which is why it's important not to impede evacuation (i.e. deploying 300 rubber masks) and get away as soon as possible.

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