The Discovery Channel crash of a Boeing 727 passenger provided valuable information to researchers looking to make air travel safer and also made for some pretty entertaining television for people who like to see things explode.
Over the weekend, the Discovery Channel crashed the jet in a remote and uninhabited part of the Mexican desert as part of an elaborate scientific experiment that will be featured in an international documentary for Discovery Channel, Channel 4 in the UK, and Pro Sieben in Germany.
A pilot brought the 170-seat aircraft in to the air before parachuting out just minutes before setting it on a crash course, a Discovery Channel blog noted. After his evacuation, the Boeing 727 was controlled remotely from a chase plane which made it crash to the desert floor.
The plane’s descent came twice as fast as a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier, USA Today noted, hitting the dry lake bed beneath it at 140 mph.
The Discovery Channel crash was meant to test crash test dummies and the aircraft itself, using dozens of cameras to document what happens when the plane goes down. The data will then be studied by an international team of experts who want to find new ways to increase passenger survivability, the Discovery Channel noted.
For safety reasons, the Discovery Channel crash was guarded by security teams as well as the Mexican military and police. Before the test could take place, Mexican officials had to look over the project and conduct a full safety review. The aircraft was salvaged after the crash and an extensive environmental clean-up operation is being carried out.
Eileen O’Neill, president of Discovery and TLC Networks, said the Discover Channel crash should yield important results for researchers:
“This ground breaking project features an actual crash of a passenger jet and explores the big questions about how to make plane crashes more survivable. It’s the ideal premiere episode for our Curiosity series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly s”eeking answers. This latest production captures that audaciousness perfectly and I can’t wait to share it.
“For the first time, leading scientists and veteran crash investigators, who have been enthusiastic supporters of this project, witness a plane crash in real time and explore what happens to the airframe and cabin, as well as the effects on the human body during a catastrophe of this magnitude. We hope to provide new information about how to improve the chances of survival while providing scientific results on passenger safety and new technologies, including new ‘black box’ flight data recording systems.”
Here is what the network describes as “bootleg video” of the Discovery Channel crash: