Thursday, March 28, 2013

Which is the safest seat on an aircraft?

The latest in our Travel Truths series looks at the safest place to be seated if you're unlucky enough to be involved in a plane crash. 

Which is the safest seat on an aircraft? 

Although some claim that seats over the wing of an aircraft are best (because the plane is “strongest” there), popular opinion has it that, in the event of a plane crash, the rear of an aircraft is the safest place to be. This theory is supported by several studies, including a recent one featured on a Channel 4 documentary. 

The producers of the documentary, The Crash, arranged for a Boeing 727 carrying cameras, sensors and crash test dummies with breakable “bones” to be deliberately crashed into the Sonoran Desert in Mexico. 

After hitting the ground, the front of the plane and the first 11 rows of seats – usually reserved for first-class, business-class or premium-economy passengers – were ripped off. A force of 12G was recorded in this section of the aircraft. Further back, the force fell to around 6G. Experts concluded that none of the plane’s first-class passengers would have survived, but 78 per cent of the other passengers would have, with the chance of survival increasing the closer they were sitting to the rear of the aircraft. According to a survey by, the results of the study led to a sharp fall in the number of enquiries for first-class seats.

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