Asiana Flight 214's Crash Shows Airline Safety Progress

Engineering advances and better airline procedures have made crashes less deadly
Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a look at the battered wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 strewn along Runway 28L at San Francisco International Airport, most observers might assume the worst had happened. The tail section had been torn from the widebody Boeing 777 during an ill-fated landing. One of the huge engines was ripped from the aircraft’s wings. And a gaping gash atop the fuselage revealed a fire-gutted interior from the conflagration that engulfed the airliner soon after it came to rest next to the tarmac. Yet only two of the 307 passengers and crew on board the jumbo jet died in the July 6 crash. Thanks to near-empty fuel tanks, design enhancements that helped keep its aluminum body largely whole, and scores of safety modifications adopted since the 1980s, the crash landing of Flight 214 became primarily a story of survivability instead of disaster.

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