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2012 Boeing 727 crash experiment


2012 Boeing 727 crash experiment

2012 Boeing 727 crash experiment
A Boeing 727 similar to the experiment aircraft
Crash experiment summary
Date April 27, 2012 (2012-04-27) 10:00
Summary Remote controlled deliberate crash into terrain / CFIT
Site Laguna Salada, Mexico (Laguna Salada - salt lake)
Aircraft type Boeing 727
Aircraft name Big Flo
Operator Discovery Channel
Registration XB-MNP
Flight origin General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada International Airport (IATA: MXL, ICAO: MMML)

On April 27, 2012, a team of scientists staged an airplane crash near Mexicali, Mexico. An unmanned Boeing 727-200, fitted with numerous cameras, crash-test dummies and other scientific instruments, was flown into the ground. The exercise was filmed for television.

This was the second experiment of its kind, with the 1984 Controlled Impact Demonstration sponsored by NASA being the first.[1]


  • Aircraft 1
  • Flight 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • Study result 4
  • Television program 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The aircraft used was a Boeing 727-200 purchased by the television production companies, registration XB-MNP[2] (formerly N293AS),[3] The site in Mexico was chosen as authorities in the United States would not allow the test to take place.[4][5] The aircraft's original owner was Singapore Airlines. The last United States owner was Broken Wing LLC of Webster Groves, Missouri who then exported it and transferred it to a Mexican production company. Broken Wing is also the company that planned and executed the experiment.[6] The aircraft was leased to Bob Dole's 1996 presidential election campaign by the then owner AvAtlantic.[7][8]


Several federal permits by the Mexican government were needed before the remote controlled flight and crash could be performed. In addition, the Mexican authorities stipulated that the aircraft had to be flown by humans during part of the flight, since it would be flying over a populated area.

The flight was piloted by captain Jim Bob Slocum, then controlled remotely by Chip Shanle, a former United States Navy pilot who works at American Airlines.[9]

The airplane took off from General Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada International Airport in Mexicali, with the flight crew and a small group of passengers, as well as a number of crash dummies, and with a chase plane following close behind. As the flight progressed towards the Sonoran Desert of Baja California in Mexico, its occupants parachuted to safety. Slocum was the last one to leave the jet, four minutes before impact. Shanle then flew the jetliner by remote control, from the chase plane.[9][10]

The jetliner hit the ground at 140 miles per hour (230 km/h), with a descent rate of 1,500 feet per minute (460 m/min).[11] Upon impact, the Boeing 727 broke up into several sections, the cockpit being torn off the fuselage.

The zone of the crash had been cordoned off by security teams, as well as Mexican police and military, for the safety of the public.[12]


The crash site received a full environmental cleanup and salvage operation, under the supervision of Mexican authorities.[12]

Study result

The conclusion of the test was that, in a case like this, passengers at the front of an aircraft would be the ones most at risk in a crash; passengers seated closer to the airplane's wings would have suffered serious but survivable injuries such as broken ankles; and the test dummies near the tail section were largely intact, so any passengers there would have likely walked away without serious injury. However, in other crashes, such as when the tail hits the ground first, the reverse might apply.

Television program

"Plane Crash"
Curiosity episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 1
Narrated by Josh Charles
Produced by Discovery Channel (USA)
Original air date October 7, 2012 (2012-10-07)
Running time 2-hour timeslot
"The Plane Crash"
Produced by Channel 4
Original air date October 11, 2012 (2012-10-11)
Running time 1 hr 35 min timeslot

A television program about the experiment was produced by Discovery Channel (United States), Dragonfly Film and Television Productions (United Kingdom), Pro Sieben (Germany), and Channel 4 (United Kingdom).[13]

The crash was the subject of a Discovery Channel television series Curiosity 2-hour episode "Plane Crash".[14][15] The episode was aired on October 7, 2012, and narrated by Josh Charles.[15][16]

The 1 hour, 35-minute episode "The Plane Crash" aired on Channel 4 in Britain on October 11, 2012.[17][18] The program has garnered criticism in Britain, as it was aired less than a fortnight after the Sita Air Flight 601 air crash in Nepal.[19]

The 2-hour "Plane Crash" episode of Curiosity aired on Discovery Channel Canada on October 28, 2012[12] and on Discovery Channel India on December 17, 2012.

ProSieben plans to air the documentary special before the end of 2012 [20] and the French channel France 5 broadcast it on June 23, 2013.

See also


  1. ^ Patrick Kevin Day. "Discovery Channel crashes 727 in 'Curiosity' season premiere". Los Angeles Times. October 7, 2012 (accessed 2012-10-17)
  2. ^ "27 APR 2012". Aviation Safety Network. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  3. ^ "FAA - N293AS". FAA. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ David Hinckley. "TV Review: ‘Curiosity: Plane Crash’". New York Daily News, October 6, 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  5. ^ Natalie Evans. "The Plane Crash: Channel 4 documentary discovers where is the safest place to sit on an aeroplane" The Mirror (London), 12 October 2012 (accessed 2012-10-17)
  6. ^ "FAA Registry - Aircraft - N-Number Inquiry". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Discovery’s ‘Curiosity’ slams a jet into the desert floor to study the damage in a plane crash - NY Daily News". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Photos: Boeing 727-212/Adv Aircraft Pictures |". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Bart Jansen. "As this (intentional) 727 crash shows, you can survive". USA Today, October 4, 2012.
  10. ^ "It pays to fly economy: Dramatic Boeing 727 crash suggests that sitting in the cheap seats on a plane could save your life". Daily Mail (London), 17 September 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  11. ^ Amy Marcott. "Scientists Crash a Plane in the Name of Safety". Slice of MIT, October 10, 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  12. ^ a b c Discovery Channel Canada, Curiosity, "ABOUT Curiosity: Plane Crash" (accessed 2012-10-27)
  13. ^ David Kaminski-Morrow. "VIDEO: Boeing 727 deliberately crashed in desert for TV". Flight International, April 30, 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  14. ^ Discovery Channel. 2012-10-07 TV schedule (accessed 2012-10-17)
  15. ^ a b Discovery Channel, Curiosity season 2 episode 1, "Plane Crash", airdate: 2012 October 7
  16. ^ Sorcha Pollak. "Discovery Channel Crashes a Jet Plane — on Purpose". Time, October 7, 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  17. ^ Channel 4. "The Plane Crash" (accessed 2012-10-17)
  18. ^ Channel 4. 2012-10-11 TV schedule (accessed 2012-10-17)
  19. ^ Caroline Shearing. "The Plane Crash: Channel 4 defends latest publicity stunt". The Telegraph (London), 11 October 2012. (accessed 2012-10-17)
  20. ^ (German) Sebastian Steinke, "Fernsehsender lassen unbemannte Boeing 727 bruchlanden", FlugRevue, 3 May 2012 (accessed 2012-10-27)

External links

  • Discovery Channel (USA): "Crash Test Smarty: Discovery Boeing 727 Plane Crash Pictures" (accessed 2012-10-17)
  • Discovery Channel (USA): "Discovery Channel Crashes a Passenger Jet For a Science Documentary" (accessed 2012-10-17)
  • Discovery Channel Canada: "ABOUT Curiosity: Plane Crash" (accessed 2012-10-27)
  • Channel 4 (UK): "The Plane Crash" (accessed 2012-10-17)
  • History of N293AS
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