Calm and clear instructions — along with cooperative passengers — have been credited for saving the lives of more than 360 passengers and crew on board a Japan Airlines flight that burst into flames after colliding with a smaller Japan Coast Guard plane on a runway at a Tokyo airport.
Within 18 minutes of landing, while the plane was engulfed in flames, the crew was able to identify which exits were safest and get passengers out and onto the ground. There were only a few minor injuries. Five of the six people on the smaller Coast Guard plane were killed.
While celebrating their work, industry watchers are now turning part of their post-crash study to what role the Airbus composite body may have played in protecting the people inside until they could safely exit or contributing to the fire's spread.
"It's hard to overstate how important of a moment this is in modern aircraft design," Jon Ostrower, editor of The Air Current, a website covering the airline industry, said on social media after the crash. "Almost 400 people aboard that A350 and all got out safely after sustaining heavy damage. A lot of analyses and small-scale tests on carbon fiber just got a massive trove of new data."
Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, has already dispatched a team to work with investigators in Japan.