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Discovery Channel Crashes a Boeing 727 For Science Documentary

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the crashing-for-ratings dept.

Television 281

conner_bw writes "A Boeing 727 passenger jet has been deliberately crash-landed. The pilot ejected just minutes before the collision. The plane was packed with scientific experiments, including crash test dummies. Dozens of cameras recorded the crash from inside the aircraft, on the ground, in chase planes and even on the ejecting pilot's helmet. All of this was done for a feature length documentary to be shown on the Discovery Channel later this year."

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281 comments

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Well... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842347)

First cool thing Discovery Channel has done in like... 10 years?

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842419)

I know. I've been watching Discovery and other channels like it since before it was cool to watch that kind of stuff, but now the main channels are mostly full of stupid reality crap. You have to go to Science, H2, NatGeo, Green, BBC, Bio, etc to find good stuff, and not all cable or satellite providers offer all of those newer networks, much less offer them on the lower packages.

Re:Well... (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842601)

Would be great for people with a fear of flying to watch I'm sure!

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

Electrawn (321224) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842705)

H2?! The Ancient Aliens Bull Shit network? All of History channel, RIP.

Re:Well... (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843357)

The Ancient Aliens Bull Shit network?

Hey, don't knock it, Ancient Aliens is one of the funniest comedy shows on TV. Is the presenter's -- that sports scientist's -- hairstyle, and orange skin, evidence of ancient alien visitors? Some ancient alien researchers believe they are.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842713)

I know. I've been watching Discovery and other channels like it since before it was cool to watch that kind of stuff, but now the main channels are mostly full of stupid reality crap. You have to go to .. BBC ... to find good stuff, and not all cable or satellite providers offer all of those newer networks, much less offer them on the lower packages.

Dunno what country you're in, but the BBC is broadcast OTA in my country, and it's full of stupid reality crap. There's the occasional gem, but you can say the same about any channel.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843145)

Even the BBC has gone downhill, though for different reasons. The other channels all chased each other to the bottom seeking higher ratings (That reality crap is very popular, as are pseudo-docs like Ancient Aliens and Most Haunted) to keep the cash coming in. The BBC followed shortly after out of a concern of becoming irrelivent - fear that it could become 'that snobby producer' that no-one watches because it's full of boring programs about some medieval king that no-one cares about any more. So they started making reality crap too, trying to up ratings to maintain their status as a british institution rather than just to get the money coming. They have at least managed to resist the temptation of the pseudo-doc.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843181)

I'd say panorama counts as a pseudo-doc

Re:Well... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843243)

H2 and NatGeo? Wtf are you smoking?

I'm not even sure you can get real educational programming in the US, but when I compare the channels you listed against something like EQhd or OasisHD, they're not even in the same category.

Shark week (4, Funny)

rve (4436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842529)

Hey! Shark week is a national treasure

I loved Shark week (5, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843157)

Until it jumped the human

Re:I loved Shark week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843391)

Oh dear. Silly comment but it still made me laugh very hard. Mod up please! :D

Re:Well... (0, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842935)

They should have crashed it into a skyscraper. That's all I need to say about that.

Re:Well... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843349)

Crash landed != crashed

Just sayin'

Wonder how (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842351)

Captain sully feels about it.

Decadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842353)

My first thought: Entertainment industry wields far too much money these days.

Re:Decadence (1)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842427)

I had a similar thought as well. That had to cost them a pretty penny or 800,000,000 million. As long as they use it for a good old fashioned "lets learn something" kind of show like they used to do, then I'm cool with it.

Re:Decadence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842447)

800,000,000 million

That's a lot of millions

Re:Decadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842809)

800000000 to be exact...

Re:Decadence (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842461)

It's not a 747, it's a 727. A quick search of www.aviatorsale.com shows you can get one for ~$5M, not $800M. Some prices are less than a million, but I figure those are for non-operational planes. Production stopped in 1984, so you know they didn't bust up a new one. I figure they used a plane equivalent to the junker cars mythbusters and such destroy regularly.

Then you turn around and contact various agencies to get them to 'sponsor' the crash, allowing them to place scientific experiments(like the crash test dummies) on board for a share of the overall cost.

Done right, Discover could have gotten it's cost of the documentary down to the cost of the film crews.

Re:Decadence (4, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842467)

I assumed the same. And they're not new to this. If they were going to lose big money on it, they wouldn't have done it.

Distributed costs (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842541)

Indeed.
Let's say the cost getting the plane and refurbishing it for this cost $6M. A 727-100C could carry 94 passengers, and/or ~17k kg of cargo. So you charge $64k per 'seat' for experiment space or $353 per kg of experiment, which ever is greater. The actual research could be extremely wide - testing new airline seat's crash-worthiness, validating the current crash models, crash dummies in general, cabin air samples during/after a crash, etc...

You get a grant from various governments for the environmental study involving the clean up of the crash site, have the ejection seat installed by one of the companies that do such things for research/advertising purposes, etc...

Being interested in 'just' making the documentary, they're providing a rare opportunity for research at a good discount without stepping on the toes of various research organizations that couldn't cooperate on their own to get this done.

Re:Distributed costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842761)

Being interested in 'just' making the documentary, they're providing a rare opportunity for research at a good discount without stepping on the toes of various research organizations that couldn't cooperate on their own to get this done.

That's the point. It is research institutions that should have initiated and funded these experiments; not some private sector media corporation. It's absurd to think that research agendas should be written by people without any real interest in long term or even sound science. Maldistributed financial ressources on a national scale.

Re:Distributed costs (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842801)

suck it up. it's not perfect, but at least it's being done.

if you let your cynicism slip for just a second, you'll realize that this was just a rather flamboyant but genuine opportunity to do some hard science. you gotta take it when it comes, not sit and bitch about how the world should be different. you can't push against the world forever - you have to realize you're just standing on it, not fighting it.

Re:Distributed costs (5, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842779)

have the ejection seat installed by one of the companies that do such things for research/advertising purposes, etc...

I feel like "eject" was the wrong word for this article (which was probably poorly transcribed from a press release).

727s don't have ejection seats.
Commercial airliners in general don't have ejection seats for a host of reasons,
some of the structural, but mostly to keep them from abandoning the passengers.

The likeliest scenario is that the pilot cracked open a door and jumped out.
And it's no trouble at all to open the doors on an unpressurized airplane.

/The most (in)famous person to ever jump out of a 727 is D.B. Cooper [wikipedia.org]

Re:Distributed costs (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842909)

727s don't have ejection seats.

I know that. Why do you think that I specified installing one? Just because it's not standard equipment doesn't mean that there aren't companies out there perfectly capable of putting one in. Heck, they've installed ones in cars before.

I agree, he might not have actually ejected via an ejection seat, but then again, he might of. Something to watch the documentary for?

Re:Distributed costs (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843169)

If my memory serves back to when I worked on the first A320 used for test flights in 1986, there was an exit chute about halfway down the aircraft in the floor, so pesky things like tailfins wouldn't interrupt egress from the aircraft.

It wouldn't surprise me if they inserted something similar into the plane they crashed.

Re:Distributed costs (5, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843207)

I agree, he might not have actually ejected via an ejection seat, but then again, he might of.

"might 'ave" (to say it the way your wrote it) or "might have".

Re:Distributed costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843277)

I would have got Hollywood on board, some good footage of the plane impacting would be great for stock scenes.

Re:Decadence (1)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842501)

What I said was "a pretty penny or 800,000,000", as in 800m pennies.

Re:Decadence (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842547)

Technically you said 800,000,000 million. Or 800 Trillion. Even in pennies that's rather high. ;)

Re:Decadence (1)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842563)

Hmm, so I did. Another case of my brain getting ahead of my hands. It's funny how I read my original comment multiple times and I did't pick up on that. I always miss stuff like that on a screen, but not on paper.

Re:Decadence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842611)

Yes I'm sure both your brain cells were taxed to oblivion.

Re:Decadence (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842655)

Mr Funny Man :-?

Re:Decadence (2)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842669)

You should try an e-ink screen.

Re:Decadence (5, Interesting)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842543)

I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing themselves didn't invest a bunch of money in the crash. Car companies test-crash automobiles on a regular basis, Boeing probably got some VERY valuable information that can help them make planes safer in the future.

Re:Decadence (5, Funny)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842557)

Discover could have gotten it's cost of the documentary down to the cost of the film crews.

If you're suggesting that the Discovery Channel exec used her Discover card to drive her costs down to the break-even point, I think you're overestimating the value of the rewards program. They only give you one percent back, and the purchase protection only covers domestic airline crashes (this one was in Mexico). When you factor in the annual fee, she probably lost money!

Or perhaps you just confused the financial company with the media company.

Re:Decadence (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842593)

Or as simple as a single letter typo. I consider myself lucky to have only one per post.

Re:Decadence (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842921)

Oh yeah, and at least my Discover card doesn't come with an annual fee.

Re:Decadence (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842693)

Add to that it just needs to fly once. This massively lowers the cost and requirements of being able to do this. Discovery probably even got given one, and they probably didn't bank roll the entire thing on their own either, there's a lot of interest parties that would front up cash for such an opportunity to gather data.

I understand that relatively "good condition" planes get scrapped because it would be too expensive to refurbish them (fatigued metal to the point it can't be repaired). A junkyard car that runs but is dangerous/illegal on the road is different to a junkyard plane that flies and is danerous/illegal in the air.

Re:Decadence (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842943)

Add to that it just needs to fly once. This massively lowers the cost and requirements of being able to do this. Discovery probably even got given one, and they probably didn't bank roll the entire thing on their own either, there's a lot of interest parties that would front up cash for such an opportunity to gather data.

I figure they probably ended up paying somewhere between one and five million for the plane, but recovered at least 90% of the cost between grants, sponsorships, and selling research space. There's good odds they made a little money, even before you figure in the profits from the show.

Even a non-flight worthy plane is worth almost a million. And as you say, there's a big difference between a plane with a useful amount of service life left, one that can still take passengers, and one that only needs to make a couple flights with limited flight crews. I figure 1 flight to the airport where the modifications are made, and 1 to the crash. They probably kept it ready to make a landing 'just in case' something went wrong and it wasn't a good day for the crash.

Re:Decadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842765)

non-operational planes

Maybe the plane they bought was crashed and refurbished by natgeo previously.

Re:Decadence (4, Interesting)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842573)

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of excited about the thought of a small third world nation having a nuclear bomb dropped on it, so that I can be entertained. I'm not heartless. The people would be evacuated first, of course. All of this would be captured by an award-winning director (I'm gunning for James Cameron), who would be free to add some drama and story to the action. If we find a poor enough nation, we should be able to pull this off for around a billion US dollars. Seeing as how Cameron has proved that he can pull in a billion dollars already, this should be doable.

I say, if we're going to be decadent, it's time to go all the way.

Re:Decadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842583)

I might actually go see it in the theatre and *gasp* _buy_ the dvd

Re:Decadence (5, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842673)

We've already done that. The US, USSR, French and British have all exploded nuclear bombs, and the footage is available on YouTube. The USA even seriously irradiated a Japanese fishing vessel in one of these explosions, and some of the crew died from radiation sickness.

Re:Decadence (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842769)

I really should have thought about that before I made my post, because you've definitely got a point. However, as disturbing as that scenario is, it hasn't been done explicitly for entertainment purposes. It also lacks the crass commercialization of a Hollywood movie, with the requisite viral marketing and merchandising tie-ins. Just think: little toy mushroom clouds for the kids! There's some real potential here for a producer with vision.

Re:Decadence (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842819)

well, the fishing boat thing was a miscalculation... they weren't to know that lithium 7 could be just as good as lithium 6.

well, they might have had a hunch.

Re:Decadence (1)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842913)

We've already done that. The US, USSR, French and British have all exploded nuclear bombs, and the footage is available on YouTube. The USA even seriously irradiated a Japanese fishing vessel in one of these explosions, and some of the crew died from radiation sickness.

But we haven't done it in 3D yet.

Re:Decadence (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842677)

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of excited about the thought of a small third world nation having a nuclear bomb dropped on it, so that I can be entertained. I'm not heartless. The people would be evacuated first, of course.

You're a bit late, we already did that. But you can still watch the footage [youtube.com] if that's what floats your boat.

Re:Decadence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842781)

It's been done, lookup "bikini atoll"

It's any wonder why the Iranians and North Koreans continue to develop nuclear weapons when all it takes is one to accidently explode on top of their own soil and they'll never want to have them again. It's not the blast that will ruin things, it's the irradiated dust.

Chernobyl is the largest reason the cold war ended. If it hadn't happened, something else would have eventually, look at Japan.

Re:Decadence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842843)

Yeah! Let's explode one over Mecca, during the hajj. A Michael Bay production!

CAPTCHA: accolade

I wonder if... (1)

Antarell (930241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842361)

it was the Mythbusters doing the crashing?

Re:I wonder if... (5, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842415)

No no, this was deliberate.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842437)

Insurance probably wouldn't let them near it.

Tragically shot down by the IOC (0)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842377)

Tragic! [n00bsonubuntu.net]

Sorry to be crude and all but all I can think is,. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842421)

Fucking awesome!

Re:Sorry to be crude and all but all I can think i (4, Funny)

Stormtrooper42 (1850242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842443)

Cave Johnson: The enrichment center reminds all test subjects who opted for the 727 crash test to fasten their seat-belts. Cake will be served on board. It will be fucking awesome. For science.

Re:Sorry to be crude and all but all I can think i (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842475)

Cake will be served on board.

So it's a Church of England flight then?
(Cake or death? [youtube.com] for those wondering).

Piloted plane? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842473)

Why risk human life when you can fly it via remote control? There are some *very* good RC pilots out there who would have creamed their shorts to get a chance to auger one of these planes in!

Re:Piloted plane? (2)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842521)

Did the pilot take the Cooper steps?

Re:Piloted plane? (5, Interesting)

garfnodie (683999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842539)

I know the FAA crashed a plane on purpose years ago, and they piloted it remotely. Remember though, this plane is being crashed first and foremost for a TV show, so having a human pilot who has to escape will allow them to add some drama. I would imagine though that they had to get the FAA involved pretty heavily in this project, so I'm sure all the safety regulatory agencies had all kinds of monitoring equipment on board along with all of Discovery's camera's and such.

Re:Piloted plane? (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842591)

I'm just guessing, but I suspect the pilot bailed once the aircraft was no longer over populated areas, and that it was flown into the ground under remote control. And since the crash happened in Mexico, the FAA probably didn't have too much involvement other than maybe adding some of their own experiments.

Re:Piloted plane? (1)

Verunks (1000826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842881)

I'm no expert but the 727 is an old plane maybe it's just not possible to fly it remotely

Re:Piloted plane? (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842971)

Virtually anything can be flown remotely. It takes little additional gear to get the job done.

Re:Piloted plane? (5, Informative)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843287)

The actual stick manipulation for basic flying doesn't take much additional equipment, but running all of the systems does. Remember, the 727 is a relatively old design, requiring a three-person crew. The third person is a flight engineer, whose job is to monitor and run the hydraulic (flight controls, brakes, landing gear), pneumatic (pressurization and deicing), electrical power, and powerplant (engine) systems. These functions are much more automated on newer aircraft (compare a modern computer-controlled car engine to one from the 60s), but older ones like the 727 require a human to monitor the analog gauges, control the systems, and prevent them from exceeding limits.

Trying to automate all of those things for a one-time flight would be simply cost-prohibitive. I know some of them wouldn't be necessary for the flight in question, but you couldn't just wave them all away, either.

Re:Piloted plane? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843025)

We've been converting planes into remote controlled drones since around WWII. It's a bit more complicated than converting a car to remote control, like what mythbusters does in a couple days all the time, but it's fairly straightforward with the right people today.

On the other hand, maybe the pilot was because operating a drone over occupied land requires permits, inspections, and certifications that were more hassle than having a pilot take it up until it was over the target area before bailing.

Number Perspective (4, Interesting)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842507)

Actor Rem in Boeing 727s'. According to a basic search [controller.com] used 727 costs ~$6mn. And according to Forbes, remunerations are as below:

Johnny Depp ------------ 15
Ben Stiller ---------------- 10.5
Tom Hanks -------------- 9
Adam Sandler ---------- 8
Leonardo Di Caprio --- 5.5
Daniel Radcliffe -------- 5
Robert Downey Jr ----- 4.5

Re:Number Perspective (-1, Troll)

baegucb (18706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842923)

I wish a few of the names on that list were on this 727.

Do Boeing or Airbus also do this . . . ? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842525)

This seems like it might provide them will valuable data that they could use in design considerations.

On the other hand, if they did do this, they would probably not make it public and broadcast it to the general public. Who wants to ride in an airplane that you have seen in detail in a disastrous crash?

The documentary will probably start with a disclaimer, "This crash was caused on purpose. This do not happen to real planes made by Boeing. Please keep flying Boeing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains."

Re:Do Boeing or Airbus also do this . . . ? (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842657)

Your ideas intrigue me. I would like to subscribe to your. No, just the opposite.

No they do more in shop kinds of testing (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842863)

Get more valuable data from a design standpoint doing that. Like every plane gets its wings bent way beyond normal tolerances to see what they can survive. There's a cool video of the 777 being tested (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRf395ioJRY) where they push its wings to 154% of their designed load capacity (they are bent way up) before they shatter. Since it is being subjected to kinds of stresses almost impossible in the real world (the 100% number is set by the maximum expected real world stress).

The problem with an actual crash is that things are highly unpredictable. So maybe you go and crash a plane, and you probably only do one they are hundreds of millions of dollars, and everything looks fine. No major damage, people inside are good, etc. Wonderful... Except you later discover that the crash was just lucky, or unlucky depending on your view. It just happened that nothing got subject to very severe stress and that only because of that precise kind of crash was everything so tame. In another crash everything goes to hell because shit was slightly different.

Better to spend time and money doing specific stress tests.

Re:No they do more in shop kinds of testing (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843047)

Better to spend time and money doing specific stress tests.

When it comes to planes, it's more along the lines of doing specific stress tests to make sure that component failures don't cause a crash in the first place. Cars barely make crashes at 65mph survivable. Survivable crashes at around 10 times that speed just aren't achievable.

Re:Do Boeing or Airbus also do this . . . ? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843033)

Plenty of crash test footage for cars out there.

Re:Do Boeing or Airbus also do this . . . ? (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843139)

NASA has [wikipedia.org]

Ideas to make it more survivable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842585)

1) Do not crash the plane in the first place.

2)Do not crash the plane in the first place.

Better prevent than cure.

Re:Ideas to make it more survivable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842743)

That's a great idea up to the point where it gets you killed.

Re:Ideas to make it more survivable (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843009)

But what if you crash the plane?! Just a little bit!?

Why risk a pilot? (2)

ToastedSpider (1531409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842629)

With all the risks associated with ejecting, and the long-established tech to fly/land aircraft remotely (or via autopilot) why even put a human on board?

Re:Why risk a pilot? (4, Insightful)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842679)

Probably because it would cost more, hasn't been tested for this particular craft, and there are regulations that make it illegal.

Re:Why risk a pilot? (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842929)

How does this ejecting work from a 727? Does the roof above the cockpit open and the chair jumps out, or how?

Ejections from a 727 (1, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843067)

I figure that the ejection was due to the regulations and cost making a pure remote flight impractical.

As for the ejection from the 727, assuming it was from an actual ejection seat I'd assume that it was installed custom, commercial planes don't come with ejection equipment by default. As such, it'd be 'however the engineers decided to install this one-off system'.

I'd probably go with a custom installed hatch in top with explosive bolts, with a fairly standard ejection chair installed on appropriate rails.

On the other hand, going down, like how B52 ejection works, might actually make more sense - with a 727 you have engines mounted high and to the back; you really, really want to avoid being anywhere near those when you eject. Remember, they're sucking air during operation. There's also the big tail to consider.

Still, you're looking at a lot more length than a fighter and a nice big rocket engine should give you plenty of clearance.

Re:Ejections from a 727 (1)

Partaolas (1926386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843133)

I would guess the pilot ejected not too long prior to impact, so ejecting downwards probably wasn't an option. Also, not all of the seats of the B52 eject downwards.

Re:Ejections from a 727 (2)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843301)

I'd guess "ejected" was probably the wrong term to use. More likely, the pilot bailed out (jumped) from the tail airstairs like D. B. Cooper, or went out through a specially-rigged baggage door hatch (an installation common on airliner test aircraft).

Re:Ejections from a 727 (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843329)

I hope for him he didn't have to walk all the way from the front to the back though...

Series name (4, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842635)

"BECAUSE WE CAN: Doing Cool Shit Just Fucking Because."

are you sure this is the Discovery Channel? (5, Insightful)

binarstu (720435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842697)

You mean to tell me that the Discovery Channel is producing a new show that is something other than watching fisherman, lumberjacks, gunsmiths, gold miners, auctioneers, motorcycle builders, or used car salesmen as they go about their daily jobs and argue with one another??? I'll believe it when I see it.

Re:are you sure this is the Discovery Channel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843005)

Nah it was about the pilot and copilot arguing the crash was just collateral damage from that event.

Here's a thought (4, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842701)

Rather than worrying about how to survive a crash retire planes after their projected life has been reached. A disturbing number are still in the air years and in some cases decades after their operational life has been reached. They do receive major overhauls but the airframe is the same and they do get stress fractures. Weakening structure has caused some dramatic failures including large sections of the fuselages tearing out mid flight. A large number of planes still in the air are older than most people on this web site. The fact some of these planes haven't been built in decades should be your first clue.

Re:Here's a thought (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842747)

If you're speaking of the case where the top of one of Hawaii Air;s (or some other Hawaiian airliner) planes ripped off mid-flight, that had nothing to do with the age of the plane, as it was fairly new. It hadn't gotten close to it's projected end of life. That was due to shoddy repair work done to a seam that had cracked (which happens more than you want to know) Age had nothing to do with that. Age really isn't a major factor as long as proper mantianence is done. Heck, there are still planes flying for the military that were first flown in Korea, and planes from WWI and WWII that fly around the globe in private hands without incident while new planes have issues all the time.

Re:Here's a thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842751)

Because planes certainly don't ever crash for any other reason than they're old.

I'll bet you don't wear your seat belt while driving in a car either because you "haven't ever been in a major accident". Right?

They are expensive things and last (4, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842757)

Non-destructive testing has been done on airframes for a very long time and points where expected overloads or fatigue are likely have been identified fairly well since the 1950s.
There's a movie out there called "The Thing From Outer Space" filmed in 1951 which heavily features a ski equipt DC3, and today (2012) there are two DC3's that are very similar to that one which fly from South Africa to Antarctica each year. A section in front of the wings which is prone to fatigue has been removed and replaced with a longer section, and they have turboprops, but the airframe is out of the 1940s.
Remaining life assessment of aircraft is something that has been going on for a long time, and it's hours of flight instead of physical age that is the important thing anyway. A lot of factors determine whether an airframe gets retired at a certain age or not instead of them all having the same use by date.

Re:Here's a thought (1)

baegucb (18706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843049)

The 737s are still being built. And it's fuselage is heavily based on the 727. Here's a recent article about it, and the problems. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/19/is-boeing-s-737-an-airplane-prone-to-problems.html [thedailybeast.com]
Of course, that's not the same as deliberately crashing a 727 into the ground, but I'm sure Boeing would be interested in the effects.

desperation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39842721)

What, did they run out of fishermen and choper manufacturers to follow around with cameras?

Poor dummies (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842777)

Did any of the dummies survive?

Re:Poor dummies (5, Funny)

fullback (968784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39842995)

Yes. Remarkably, many of the surviving dummies have been elected to congress and others work for the TSA.

Forget the ejection seat. (5, Informative)

Catmeat (20653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843031)

I call bullshit on the word "ejected". Installing a seat would be a massive amount of hassle - cutting a hatch in the roof of the cockpit would be a major modification of the airframe. I'm no airplane geek but I bet the airframe would need FAA recertification after that kind of modification, plus a massive amount of testing to make sure it all worked correctly (you really don't want the situation where the seat fires but the hatch remains locked in place). I admit I'm pulling a number out of the air, but I'd be unsurprised if there was little change from ten million.

Forget the ejection seat. I bet the reason they used a 727 is that it's fitted with an Airstair [wikipedia.org] , a combined hatch/stairway at the very rear of the aircraft. The Airstair makes the 727 one of the few airliners that it's possible to parachute from without the risk of being hit by the engines, wing or tailplane - a person known as "Mr Cooper" [wikipedia.org] proved this was possible in 1971. The only modification needed to do it again is the removal of the Cooper vane [wikipedia.org] , a small aerodynamic device fitted to 727s after the DB Cooper hikack, intended to stop the Airstair being opened in flight.

Reminds me of another test (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843395)

Some company years ago was trying to sell the airlines on a new fuel formulation designed to not vaporise and erupt into a conflagration after a crash. They set up a deliberate crash landing by remote control onto a paved runway surface spiked with iron stakes designed to shred the plane's wings and fuel tanks. It was very cool and video has to be out there somewhere.

Even cooler: how the revolutionary fuel concoction disappeared overnight after the plane burst into s hellish inferno of flames after touching down as planned! Priceless.

What about the environmental impact? (1, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843403)

A plane crash has got to have the huge potential to leak all kinds of harmful substances into the local ecosystem. Jet fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, and the combustion remnants of the plastics, fiberglass, aluminum, and other things... none of it could have been good for the local plant and wild life.

Did Discovery do their due diligence to study such potential impacts, and perform a proper cleanup after the crash? What are they doing now to ensure there are no long-term adverse effects?

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