Friday, February 27, 2009

Heathrow is just dangerous where it is

Last year, the BA038 flight narrowly avoided catastrophe when the Boeing 777 crash-landed just short of Heathrow's perimeter fence after nearly shaving houses, gliding only 6 meters above cars on the A30.

Yesterday, the Turkish Airlines 1951 crashed 3km north of Schipol's runway.

There are striking resemblances between both accidents: in both cases, the Engines stalled and as the BA038 AIBB report implies, it's quite a miracle in both caes that there was no fire after impact, despite the landing gear perforating the fuel tanks and the fire switch not being activated in the proper squence for the British Airways flight.

Where there are differences though, is in the configuration of the airports: Schipol has been built away from Amsterdam, to allow for approaches over the North Sea and minimise nuisances. In passing, Netherlands, and especially Noord Holland, is the densest European country.

This muddy field explains largely why most of the Turkish Airlines 1951 passengers escaped unharmed despite the fuselage breaking in three sections on impact. Note that Turkish has a good safety reputation and that the Boeing 737-800

If a two engine aircraft (I keep thinking four engines are better...) lost power in the same way while on final approach to Heathrow it would end up right on Cardington square, Hounslow. In the best case, it would be a small aricraft falling on a single nearly empty house like the Continental 3407.

Heathrow flight paths are directly above 2 millions people, a 747 crash on Richmond high street would be way more ugly...


See also: Heathrow is not safe: chilling crash map

1 comment:

Ludovic Windsor said...

Note to Alex (or whomever you are): pls don't spam my blog with your ads. If you want to advertise you need to pay, I'd gladly convert any fees into beer.