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August 4, 2005

Air France Flight 358 Airbus A340 crashes and burns in Toronto

Get a load of this guy walking across a field away from a burning plane with his suitcase. Reminds me of Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

After aborting their first landing attempt, the geniuses decided to try again and, in a raging thunderstorm with lightning, high winds, rain, hail, and a potential for wind shear and microbursts, attempted to land an Airbus A340 at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Somehow, they managed to overshoot the runway, landing about halfway down the runway on 24L, west of D2.

The plane landed going 140 knots, and left the end of the runway going 84 knots. The plane traveled about 200 meters before breaking apart and burning in a ravine just shy of Highway 401, Canada's busiest highway.

I have no doubt that they will come up with other contributing factors, potentially related to braking, reverse thrusters, wet runway, etc., but if the geniuses hadn't landed so far down the runway, they'd have been in better shape.

Update: It turns out that the freaking co-pilot was in control of the plane and preliminary evidence suggests there was nothing wrong with the aircraft. My guess is this is going to go down as pilot error.

Update 2: They're starting to admit that the co-pilot landed "long", meaning too far down the runway. Genius.

Finally, the other thing to consider is that the runway should not have a ravine and a busy highway at the end of it. Instead, it should have a Soft Ground Arrestor Systems. (Basically an open, level field extending for 1,000 feet).

Aircraft can and do overrun the ends of runways, sometimes with disastrous consequences. In order to minimize the hazards of overruns the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a safety area 1000 feet in length beyond the end of the runway. Although this safety area is now an FAA standard, many runways were constructed prior to its adoption. For those locations that do not have the space for full safety area, soft ground arrestors provide an engineered solution to restore a margin of safety. "Soft ground," means any material that will deform readily and reliably under the weight of an aircraft tire. As the tires crush the material, the drag forces decelerate the aircraft.

Miraculously, their poor judgement didn't result in anyone's untimely demise, so the only net result of their malfeasance will be to bankrupt their airline, which I seriously doubt anyone will miss.

Posted by Peenie Wallie on August 4, 2005 at 6:21 PM