Simon Calder: This miracle will make flying safer
Saturday 17 January 2009
One of the most prevalent urban myths in air travel is about the dental connotations of the "brace position". Popular rumour insists that its sole purpose is to keep passengers' jaws intact. In the event of a crash landing, so this flying folk tale runs, well-preserved teeth are essential for identifying the bodies. That is utter nonsense, as the extraordinary story of flight 1549 testifies: the illustration on the back of the safety card showing a plane floating perkily on lapping water is not so far-fetched.
God was given considerable credit for His part in the event but I would attribute it to a combination of superb flying and a brilliantly executed evacuation. Unquestionably, air safety will be enhanced – firstly, because the crash investigation is likely to recommend enhanced precautions against bird strikes; and secondly, because more passengers will pay attention to the safety briefing.
When I flew from Heathrow to Berlin yesterday, I watched my fellow passengers closely as the safety briefing took place. Every newspaper was put down, all conversation ceased. Anything that persuades passengers to pay more attention to the cabin crew increases everyone's chances in an emergency. Perhaps the US Airways event will also serve to remind passengers just how safe aviation has become.
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