A transportation safety expert says that many airline passengers die needlessly every year in survivable air crashes because of the way today's aircraft are designed. He makes the case for an airliner of the future that would be sturdier, safer, more comfortable, less noisy and more economical.
This article appeared in THE NEWSDAY MAGAZINE on December 12, 1982. The cover of the magazine read: Surviving a Crash: Why Not Safer Planes?
About the Author: Edmund J. Cantilli of West Hempstead, New York, is professor of transportation planning and engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York and executive director of the nonprofit Institute for Safety in Transportation.
Webmaster's Note: Minor deletions were made to the article with the author's approval.
In January of this year, an Air Florida Boeing 737, crippled by ice on its wings, hit a bridge on takeoff from Washington's National Airport and crashed into the Potomac River. Seventy-eight persons were killed.
In Boston 10 days later, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 skidded off the end of an icy runway at Logan Airport and plunged into Boston Harbor. The front of the fuselage snapped off like the top of an eggshell and two men, apparently pitched out of the broken plane, were later found dead in the water.
In February, 24 of 166 passengers aboard a Japan Air Lines DC-8 were killed when the airliner crashed just short of the runway at Haneda Airport, plunging into Tokyo Bay after hitting approach-light stanchions extending into the bay.
On Sept. 13, a Spantax Airline DC-10 bound for New York with 393 people on board aborted its takeoff in Malaga, Spain and skidded across a highway. When fire broke out in the tail section, some doors failed to open, trapping 51 people, who died.