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How to survive a plane crash

Expert advice on making it through

How to survive a plane crash

Even though the chances are reassuringly slim, we've seen enough films to know that finding yourself in the middle of a hurtling aeroplane is not a pleasant experience.

Just to settle our occasionally frayed nerves, we spoke to David Learmount, Safety Editor of Flight International magazine and contributing expert to new show Air Crash Investigation (starting tonight on National Geographic Channel at 9pm), who gave us a run-down on how to survive a plane crash.

"Before you even leave your house, there are several things you'll need to consider. Think about what you would do if you were going to have to survive in the parts of the world you are flying over. If you’re flying over the Atlantic and the aircraft had to ditch in the ocean, what would you want to be wearing? You’d want some sort of waterproof and windproof jacket. I reckon it's worth buying something in Gore-Tex. It’s light, it keeps you dry and keeps the wind off you.

"All of the clothes should be loose fitting so that you can be active in them as you might need to be. Having multiple layers of clothing, not heavy layers like a winter overcoat, gives you good protection against fire and heat. One of the hazards you might face is fire and the more layers, the more protection you’ll have against it.

"The part of an aeroplane which survives more often than others is the back half. It isn’t an absolute rule but if you’re talking about statistics then go down the back.

"It may sound terribly uncool but you should read your safety card. I’m a former military pilot and I am usually the only one who reads the card. I find out where the exits are relative to where I’m sitting. I count the seat rows to the exits that are in front of me and I count the seat rows to the exits behind. I imagine myself finding my way there in the dark because that might be what you’re having to do. You might need to feel your way to the exits so you need to know how many seat rows to count. You also need to read how to open them. If the cabin crew haven’t survived then you might need to know this.

"They always say that during the flight you should leave your seatbelt loosely fastened and this is right. The pilots don’t always know that severe turbulence is coming so it's good to be prepared. There’s a certain type of turbulence which can be terribly violent. For take-off and landing, you should tighten your seatbelt as tight as you can without making it uncomfortable. If it's just loosely fastened for take-off and landing and the aircraft were to abandon its take-off for some emergency reason and you were to be impacted, you may not survive. If you are asked to make the brace position then make very sure that your seatbelt is firmly fastened because the brace position is not going to help otherwise.

"There have been all sorts of studies of accidents to find out the difference between those who survive and those who don’t and the people who are most likely to survive are young, male frequent flyers. They’re young, they’re fit, they’re aggressive and they’re familiar with the environment."

AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION on National Geographic Channel Monday at 9pm from 7th March

(Image: Rex Features)