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October 7, 2012

Which is the best seat to survive in plane crash - crash test dummies

     Washington: To learn where’s the safest place to sit in case the plane crashes, scientists deliberately crashed a remote-controlled Boeing 727 loaded with sensors and crash test dummies in the desert along the US-Mexico border. The crash test will be shown in the first episode of Discovery Channel series “Curiosity” debuting Sunday. Survivability expert Dr. Thomas Barth, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, was the lead scientist on the project.

“The airplane had three pilots on board who were also parachutists and there was a remote control system. And so the airplane was flown - it was down in Mexico - over to the crash site. And then the three pilots transferred control of the airplane over to a remote control system and they parachuted out, and then a chase airplane that was operating the airplane by remote control crashed it into the desert,” he explained to “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-hosts Rebecca Jarvis and Anthony Mason. The results, said Barth, were “pretty dramatic. The nose and cockpit buckled under the airplane and was basically run over by the aircraft. The first ten rows of seats were completely destroyed. And the rest of the fuselage remained intact.”

To learn where the best place for passengers to be would have been, Barth explained, “We measured the forces as they come up through the aircraft floor and into the seats and the passengers. “Of course, the first ten rows were completely destroyed, so they would have been non-survivable. The area just behind that but in front of the wing had potential for serious injury but was survivable. And then over the wing, it was moderate injuries and survivable. And then in the back - you would have been fine if you were wearing a seat belt.”

Putting the head between knees may also help, he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of research and information about how the brace position really does work. So, we had crash test dummies, one in the brace position and one sitting upright with 32 censors all over their body, measuring all their potential for injury. “And we found (there was less) injury potential with the crash brace dummy, and the reason is because their body doesn’t flail as hard and hit the interior, and (that) lowers their impact injuries,” he added.

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