Change Your Life!
Most airline passengers survive
February 22, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 95 percent of passengers survive commercial airplane accidents and even more lives could be saved by changes such as redesigning the safety cards in seat pockets, safety regulators say.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report Wednesday that the number of people killed has fallen as a result of improvements that include exit lights along the floor and cabin materials less likely to burn.
While passengers should read the safety cards and pay attention to follow the crew's safety instructions, board members also mentioned requiring new tests for emergency evacuation equipment, and redesigning the safety cards and attendants' preflight presentations to passengers.
``They've come up with these cartoonish-looking cards,'' board member George Black Jr. said. ``Even if (the passengers) read it, I don't think they'd understand.''
The NTSB's acting chairwoman, Carol Carmody, said she would urge the Federal Aviation Administration to follow the safety board's recommendations.
``There are more things that need to be done,'' she said. ``We need to keep the pressure on.''
The accidents studied included crashes, runway collisions or aborted takeoffs that resulted in deaths, serious injuries or major damage to the aircraft.
The NTSB study found that even in serious accidents — defined as those where the plane is substantially damaged, where at least one death or serious injury occurs, and where fire breaks out — more than half of the passengers survive.
In 568 commercial airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000, 96 percent of those on board survived, the NTSB study showed. In 26 serious accidents, 56 percent survived.
The NTSB has asked the FAA to require airlines to retrofit older planes to meet new fire-resistant standards for cabin materials. The FAA rejected the proposal, saying it was too costly.
Board members also urged the FAA to tell flight attendants what they should say when reviewing an airplane's safety features.
``I don't understand why we can't have a standard presentation,'' Black said.
FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette said the agency has worked with the airlines on their safety speeches, and has also run its own advertisements urging passengers to buckle up on airlines and listen to the safety rules.
Several airlines already are updating their safety presentations, said Michael Wascom, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the trade group for major airlines. They are using computer animation, and in some newer planes have individual screens for each seat that show the safety video.